Your baby will still drink plenty of milk when they start on solids, but help them learn to like drinking water as well.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to what to offer and when.
At a glance
- At 6 months, you can offer your baby a few sips of water or well diluted juice with their meals
- Milk is an important source of nutrition so make sure they still get plenty
- Drinks that are full of sugar should be avoided as they can harm milk teeth and cause diarrhoea
What you’ll need
Before you start, your baby will need a lidded cup. “Choose one with a free-flow lid so that your baby doesn’t have to suck, and learns to drink properly,” says Bounty’s paediatric dietician, Judy More. “. By age one year your baby can be having drinks from an un-lidded cup.”
6 months +
When your baby is eating more than just a few teaspoons of food , you can offer your baby a drink from a lidded cup with meals:
- A few sips of water is the best choice
- Well-diluted fruit juices encourage a taste for sweet drinks so it is best to avoid them. If you do offer them – make it up so it’s about 10 parts water to one part juice. Herbal infant drinks are usually very sweet so best to avoid them too.
How much milk?
Breastmilk of formula milk will still be an important source of nutrition for your baby until they are one.
- As your baby eats more they will cut down the amount of milk they drink –you will not notice this when you are breastfeeding but with bottles of milk allow them to stop when they have had enough.
- When you begin offering a second course of fruit and /or yogurt after a savoury course your baby may refuse a milk feed altogether or drink less.
Cow’s milk isn’t suitable as a main drink until your baby is one, but it’s fine to cook with until then.
12 months +
By now, your toddler should be drinking all their drinks from a cup – water is the best choice. Life gets easier now (always a good thing!), because babies can start having full-fat cows’ milk as a main drink instead of formula. Full-fat milk contains important nutrients like calcium, vitamin A and B vitamins and provides energy for an active toddler. (When yout toddler reaches two, you can change to semi-skimmed but this isn’t necessary and they will get more vitamin A for their immune system if you keep them on full fat milk .)
Drinks to avoid
Some drinks really aren’t good for babies and toddlers – even if they’re designed to look healthy. They may be so loaded with calories they leave your child feeling too full for proper nutritious meals. And many contain lots of sugar which can harm milk teeth and in large amounts could cause diarrhoea. So it’s best you avoid a few key types of drink:
- Fizzy drinks
- Flavoured milk
- Fruit drinks
- Neat fruit juice
- Diet or reduced sugar drinks
- Tea and coffee
‘I only give him water. When he goes to nursery, I expect he’ll have juice, but I’ve heard that if you give them juice they won’t have water, so I don’t want to get him started.’ -Linda, mum of 1.
‘My health visitor advised giving water with a tiny amount of pure apple juice – 50ml water to 5ml of apple juice. The apple juice must be pure, though, no other ingredients and not processed. It’s really expensive, nearly £3 per bottle ouch!!’ - BecciDeno
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