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.
The only drinks your baby needs are breastmilk or iron-fortified formula. Your baby still needs the nutrition from breastmilk or formula to grow up healthy. Most babies this age will still be nursing or taking a bottle four or five times a day until their first birthday.
Should babies drink water? Now that your baby is 6 months has started eating solid foods, we recommend giving him 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!
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
- Increased risk of exposure to bacteria in unpasteurized juices
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).
Your baby’s body isn’t ready for cow’s milk. It can irritate his stomach and keep him from absorbing the iron he needs to grow. Cow’s milk would also replace the breastmilk or formula his body really needs.
What about other non-dairy milk alternatives, like soy and almond milk? Just like with cow’s milk, non-dairy milk alternatives can take the place of what your baby really needs for healthy growth and development: breastmilk and/or formula. It’s best to wait until your baby’s first birthday to introduce any type of milk (dairy or non-dairy).
Sweet drinks are full of sugar, so they’re not a good choice for your child (at any age). Sweet drinks not only cause tooth decay, they also teach your baby to prefer unhealthy sweet drinks, making it harder for him to choose water later on.
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 him to prefer sweet drinks later. If you teach him to like the taste of water now, he’s less likely to be picky later!