By Raising Children Network
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In the first six months, your baby doesn’t need any drinks other than breastmilk or formula. After six months, you can introduce boiled, cooled tap water.

The basics

Up to six months, breastmilk and formula are all babies need. They contain enough liquid to stop dehydration, even in hot weather.

From six months, you can give your baby small amounts of cooled boiled tap-water in hot weather and if baby seems thirsty.

At 12 months, you can give your baby pasteurised full-fat cow’s milk. It contains protein, calcium and other nutrients.

Toddlers have high energy needs, so reduced-fat milks are not recommended until your child has turned two. Skim milk, which has no fat at all, is not recommended for children under five.

What to avoid

Fruit juice might seem healthy for your baby. In fact, it can cause many problems, from tummy aches to tooth decay. If babies drink a lot of juice, they might lose interest in the breastmilk or formula that is their crucial source of nutrients (including protein).

If you do want to give your baby some juice (say, after 12 months), dilute the juice half-and-half with water. Also really limit the amount you give. Look for pasteurised juice to avoid infections (it will be written on the label), and 100% juice. Avoid fruit-juice drinks, which could be loaded with sugar.

Soft drinks are full of sugar and contain virtually no nutrients. They are unsuitable for babies and children, because they’re bad for teeth.

Mineral waters are high in certain minerals that can stress your baby’s kidneys.

Herbal teas are not good for your baby.

Soy milk – even with added calcium – doesn’t have the nutrients your baby needs. It is not recommended as a replacement for breastmilk or formula.

Rice milk or oat milk are never a replacement for cow’s milk, formula or soy formula.

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  • Last Updated 28-11-2009
  • Last Reviewed 12-10-2009
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. (2001). The use and misuse of fruit juices in pediatrics. Pediatrics, 107, 1210-1213.

    National Health and Medical Research Council (2003). Dietary guidelines for children and adolescents in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.

    Smith, M.M., & Lifshitz, F. (1994). Excess fruit juice consumption as a contributing factor in nonorganic failure to thrive. Pediatrics, 93, 438-443.