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Introducing drinks

While it’s recommended that you continue breastfeeding your baby, you can introduce some drinks to their diet.

Milk

  • Breast milk is a precious food for your baby. 

  • We recommend that your baby continues to breastfeed until they are at least 1 year or older.

  • If formula-feeding, they should have formula until they are at least 1 year old. 

  • Don’t add solid food, such as baby rice, to your baby’s milk and feed it from a bottle. 

  • Your baby needs to have milk before solids until they’re 8 to 9 months old. 

  • It’s best not to give your baby cows’ milk until they’re 1 year old. Cows’ milk doesn’t have the vitamins and minerals, especially iron, that a growing baby needs.

Water

For the first 3 months, use cooled boiled water if you’re making up formula feeds for your baby. From 3 months old, you don’t need to boil town-supply tap water, but do run the tap for 10–15 seconds before you use the water.

If your water is not from a community drinking water supply, but is from a tank or a bore hole, then you’ll need to boil the water the baby will drink for at least 3 minutes and cool it, until your baby is 18 months old.

If you have a bore, check with your local council to make sure that your water is low in a chemical compound called nitrate.

Other drinks

It’s best NOT to give the following drinks to your baby:

  • Tea or herbal tea

  • Coffee 

  • Cola drinks or fizzy drinks

  • Sports drinks

  • Flavoured milk

  • Fruit juice

  • Packet drinks

Some of these drinks will reduce the amount of iron your baby can absorb, plus they don’t have nutrients. Baby needs iron and nutrients for growth and development.

The sugar in some of these drinks also provides food for bacteria in your baby’s mouth, making an acid that can rot your baby’s teeth.

Helping your baby drink safely

To help your baby drink safely:

  • Sit them on your lap or in a highchair. 

  • Cuddle your baby while they are drinking. 

  • Try not to prop your baby on pillows or lay them flat to drink - they’re more likely to get ear infections or choke. 

  • Watch that your baby doesn’t fall asleep - they could choke, and are more likely to get holes (dental decay) in their teeth.

Never let babies or children drink alcohol.

 

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