Should My Baby Drink This?

It’s fun to introduce baby to new foods, but what about drinks? We’re answering your questions and sharing the facts about drinks for baby.

Mom breastfeeding son

The only drinks your baby needs are breastmilk or formula. Your baby still needs the nutrition from breastmilk or formula for healthy growth and development. Between the ages of 6 and 12 months, most babies will still be nursing or taking a bottle 4 or 5 times a day.

Should babies drink water?

Around 6 months, when your baby starts eating solid foods, we recommend giving them a few sips of water with mealtimes. Not only will a little bit of water help with constipation, now is a great time to start teaching your baby to drink from a cup. Learning to use an open cup is messy business, so we don't recommend wasting your breastmilk or formula on this teaching lesson because there will be spills!

Baby fruit juice

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice until at least baby's first birthday. Even all-natural or freshly squeezed juice has as much sugar as soda, and it lacks the dietary fiber found in whole fruit.

According to the AAP, juice consumption by babies can lead to:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Increased risk of tooth decay
  • Increased risk of diarrhea, gas and bloating

If you haven’t introduced juice yet, don’t start now! If you have, it’s not too late to cut back or remove it. Start diluting the juice by using half water and adding more and more water over a few days until the juice is gone. And be sure to offer juice only in an open cup at snack times as sipping on a bottle of juice, a sippy cup of juice or a juice box for an extended period of time further increases the risk of tooth decay (even if your baby's teeth haven't broken through yet).

almond, soy, and cow's milk

Your baby’s body isn’t ready for cow’s milk. It’s OK for your baby to eat plain yogurt, cheese or foods prepared and cooked with milk. However, it’s best to wait until your baby’s first birthday to give them a cup of milk to drink. Cows milk doesn’t offer the same nutrition as breastmilk or infant formula.

What about other non-dairy milk alternatives, like soy and almond milk?

Just like cows milk non-dairy milk alternatives should not be offered until your baby's first birthday. If you choose to offer non-dairy milk alternatives to whole cow’s milk some good choices are:

  • Plain, unflavored soy milk (the flavored versions have added sugars your child does not need)
  • Plain, unsweetened pea protein milk.

Some nut, plant-based and rice milks do not contain the equivalent nutrition as cow’s milk. Speak to your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian before starting a milk alternative to ensure your child is getting the proper nutrition.

Sweet drinks

Sweet drinks are full of sugar and are not the best choice for your child (at any age). Sweet drinks, such as juice, soda, sweet tea, lemonande and many more, not only can cause diahrrea, upset stomach and tooth decay, they also teach your baby to prefer sweet drinks as they grow older, making it harder for them to choose water later on.

sippy cup with kool aid

We don’t recommend sugar-free drinks because they usually contain artificial sweeteners, and the long-term effects of those sweeteners in kids are unknown. They also may contain food dyes and other ingredients that may not be well tolerated by some children.

Sweetening baby’s water also trains them to prefer sweet drinks later. If you teach them to like the taste of water now, they’re less likely to be picky later!