Answers To Common Questions About Milk, Water And Other Drinks For You Baby

When it comes to whatever fluids our baby drinks, it’s always better to be safe than sorry

If your baby is still not into eating solid food or if she’s still getting used to it, then that means almost everything that goes into her body is in liquid form. For breastfeeding moms, it’s a no-brainer, but once we start introducing other liquids such as formula milk or juices, it’s important to know whether or not we’re doing it in a safe and proper manner.

We’ve put together some of the frequently asked questions about what we let our baby drink and how it should be done. Enjoy reading!

Is it okay to give your baby fruit and vegetable juice? How much?

The answer to this depends on how old your baby is. Basically, breastmilk or formula milk is all your baby needs to drink for the first six months of her life. Once you start to give your baby solid foods, she can have diluted fruit or vegetable juice at mealtimes, although she certainly doesn’t need it.

If you do give your baby fruit or vegetable juices, dilute them well, using at least one part juice to 10 parts water. A total of 120ml (4 fl oz) of juice a day would be plenty. Offer the diluted juice in a beaker or cup at mealtimes only, not in a bottle and not before bedtime. This will help to protect your baby's emerging teeth. 

Does your formula-fed baby need extra water?

Your formula-fed baby may occasionally need extra water, especially if the weather is hot and she’s thirstier than usual. However, only give small amounts of water at a time. You don’t want water to replace a feed and make your baby too full for her milk. 

If your baby is younger than six months, boil the water first and allow it to cool before offering it to her. Tap water is fine to use, as it’s cheap, safe, and there’s plenty of it.

When is it okay to give your baby cow's milk as her main drink?

Wait until your baby is a year old before giving her cow's milk as a main drink. It's fine to use a little cow's milk in your baby's food once she's started on solids. Yoghurt and mild cheese are also fine to feed your baby from six months. But cow's milk as her main drink will leave her short of important nutrients before she's one year old. 

Between six months and a year, your baby needs breastmilk or formula milk as her main drink, together with iron-rich foods, to keep up her supplies of iron. Your baby won't get enough iron if cow's milk is her main drink.

Can you give your baby fizzy and soft drinks?

It’s best not to give your baby fizzy or soft drinks. Fruit squashes and flavoured milk are not a good choice for your baby, either. 

Fizzy drinks, soft drinks and fruit squashes are very sugary and acidic, and they can damage your baby’s emerging teeth. Flavoured milk and milkshakes contain added sugar, too.

Sugary drinks can fill your baby up and spoil her appetite for her meals and the nutritious foods she needs. If your baby often has sugary drinks, it encourages her to develop a sweet tooth. This could lead to poor eating habits as she grows and she may become overweight. 

Can you give your baby herbal teas to soothe an upset tummy?

As long as your baby is six months old, it's fine to offer her the occasional drink of unsweetened baby herbal tea. These teas usually contain herbs that are said to ease digestion, such as:

  • camomile
  • caraway
  • fennel
  • dill

Some teas also contain sugar to mask their pungent taste. So check that the tea you're giving your baby isn't sweetened. The sugar could damage your baby's developing teeth.

Herbal teas are not suitable for babies who are less than six months old. Your baby needs nothing but breastmilk or formula milk until then. 

Should you change formula once your baby starts solids?

No, you don't need to. Until your baby is six months old, breastmilk or infant formula first milk is the only food your baby needs. And after six months, you can continue to give your baby the same infant formula, as you start to introduce solids alongside it. 

The formula that's called follow-on milk is marketed for babies from six months because it is high in iron. However, you don't need to give your baby follow-on milk as it offers no real advantages over standard formula milks. Your baby is already getting iron from her infant formula, and will now start to get the extra iron she needs from the foods she eats. 

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