Once your baby is eating a few solids, they might start to feel a little bit thirstier, but what drinks are safe to give?
It’s fine to use a little cow’s milk in your baby’s food once your little one has started on solids. Yoghurt and mild cheese are also fine to feed your baby from six months.
But cow’s milk as their main drink will leave them short of important nutrients before they are one year old. Between six months and a year, your baby needs breastmilk or formula as their main drink, together with iron-rich foods, to keep up their supplies of iron.
Your baby won’t get enough iron if cow’s milk is their main drink. When your baby is a year old, you can give them full-fat cow’s milk to drink in a beaker with a soft spout or lidded cup.
The MAM Starter cup comes with an extra soft spout, made of silk silicone. By then, your baby should be getting most of the iron they need from their meals.
You don’t need to give your baby follow-on milk instead of breastmilk or formula. A diet containing your baby’s usual milk, along with a variety of solid foods, will give your growing baby all they need.
It’s true that when your baby is between six months and a year they need more iron than they needed during their first six months. However, you can make sure your baby gets enough iron and other nutrients by starting them on a variety of solid foods from six months.
If your baby is under a year old, don’t feed them growing-up milk. Growing-up milk is marketed as being suitable for toddlers aged between one year old and three years old.
Growing-up milk has vitamins, minerals and prebiotics added to it. It also contains higher levels of iron than other formula milks.
For this reason, you may want to feed it to your baby once they are a year old. However, at this age your baby should be getting all they need from a combination of solid foods and breastmilk or formula.
Growing-up milk is no better for your child than cow’s milk. When your baby is one year old, they can have cow’s milk as a drink.
Sheep or Goat’s Milk
It’s best not to give your baby sheep’s or goat’s milk as their main drink until they’re one year old. These milks don’t contain the right balance of nutrients for your baby.
They are too low in iron for their needs. However, you can give your baby goat’s milk infant formula from birth. Goat’s milk formulas meet the same nutritional standards as those for formulas based on cow’s milk.
Plain water is the best refreshment for your baby if they need it. If your baby is younger than 6 months, you’ll need to boil the water and cool it before use. After 6 months, tap water is fine to use.
If you have a water softener fitted at home, make sure you keep one tap separate that supplies hard water for drinking. Softened water contains relatively higher levels of sodium that is unsuitable for babies to drink.
Many bottled waters are not suitable for babies because of the levels of minerals they contain.
If you need to use bottled water, check the label to make sure the figure for sodium (which may appear as ‘Na’) is not higher than 20mg (milligrams) per litre. You’ll still need to boil the water and allow it to cool before use.
From around 7 months, if your baby is having three solid meals a day plus milk feeds, you can try dropping a milk feed (at lunchtime, say) and offering water or diluted fruit juice in a feeding beaker instead. The MAM Learn to Drink cup and Fun to Drink cup are perfect for little ones learning to drink independently.
How Much Milk Does My Baby Need?
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, once you give your baby their first foods at six months, the amount of milk they take will start to decline. If you have been breastfeeding, there’s no reason to stop. You can’t measure the amount of breastmilk your baby is taking, so let your baby be your guide.
They may want to continue with a breastfeed first thing in the morning and at bedtime. As your baby starts to eat more solid foods, you may find that feeds between meals become shorter and eventually stop.
However, your baby’s appetite can change from day to day, just as yours does. So you may find your baby sometimes wants a breastfeed after a meal.
If you are bottle-feeding you can continue to do so. Once your baby is fully established on solid foods, the minimum amount of formula they should have is between 500ml and 600ml (about a pint) a day. After a year, your child only needs about 350ml (12oz) of milk a day. This can be breastmilk, formula milk, cow’s milk or goats or sheep’s milk.
Is My Baby Drinking Enough?
Babies who are solely breast or bottle-fed should be getting enough fluids. It’s only when solid foods are established that extra drinks usually need to be offered. Your baby’s nappy should be wet at every nappy change.
If your baby is dehydrated you may notice one or more of these signs:
- Dark yellow urine
- A sunken fontanelle (soft spot)
- Dry or sticky lips and mouth
- Skin that has lost its elasticity
- Lethargic, Sleepy