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Baby drinks and cups

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We explain the drinks you should and shouldn’t give your child

You can start to offer your baby drinks, other than breast milk, in a cup from around six months of age.

Here we look at baby cups and beakers and the drinks you should and shouldn’t give your child.

Choosing a baby beaker or cup

Choose a beaker with a free-flow lid (without a non-spill valve) rather than a bottle or beaker with a teat. This will help your baby learn to sip rather than suck, which is better for his teeth.

As soon as your baby is ready, encourage him to move from a lidded beaker to drinking from an open cup.

Milk feeds

Once your baby is eating plenty of solids several times a day, he may take less milk at each feed or even drop a milk feed altogether. You should continue to breastfeed, or give your baby 500-600ml of formula each day, until he’s at least one year old.

Breastfeeding will continue to benefit you and your baby for as long as you can carry on doing it.

Cow’s milk

Cows’ milk shouldn’t be given as a drink to your baby until he is 12 months old. Cow’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron and other nutrients to meet your baby’s needs. It can be used in cooking before this.

Goats and sheep milk

These are not suitable as drinks for babies under one year old as they don’t contain the iron and other nutrients babies need.

As long as they’re pasteurised, they can be used once you baby is one year old.

Rice drinks

Children under five years of age shouldn’t be given rice drinks as they contain inorganic arsenic.

Water

If your baby is fully breastfed, he doesn’t need any water until he starts eating solid food. For babies under six months boiled, cooled water can be offered. Water for babies over six months doesn’t need to be boiled.

Fruit juice and smoothies

Citrus fruit juices, such as orange or grapefruit are a good source of vitamin C, but they are acidic and contain natural sugars, which can cause tooth decay.

You can start to offer well-diluted fruit juice – one-part juice to 10 parts water – in a cup with your baby’s meals after he is six months old. Give fruit juice at mealtimes (rather than between) as this will help reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Squashes, “fruit” or “juice” drinks

These drinks are high in sugar and can cause tooth decay, even when diluted, so you shouldn’t give them to your baby.

Fizzy drinks

All fizzy drinks, including diet and reduced sugar drinks, are acidic and can damage tooth enamel so they should never be given to babies.

Baby and herbal drinks

These usually contain sugars and are not recommended.

Tea and coffee

These aren’t suitable for babies or young children. They can reduce the amount of iron absorbed from food, especially if they are given with meals. If sugar is added, they can also cause tooth decay.

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