Drinks for babies 0 to 12 months

It's important to keep babies hydrated. But their needs change as they grow.

0 to 6 months

Breastfed babies get all the nourishment and hydration they need from your milk. They do not need any other drinks. These could reduce the amount of breastmilk they take.

If you are formula feeding your baby, they should get all the nourishment and hydration they need from the formula milk. Your healthcare professional may advise you to give your baby some cooled boiled water if they are constipated.

Constipation in babies (0 to 6 months)

Do not give your 0 to 6 month old baby:

  • fruit juice or squash (even if diluted or no added sugar)

  • cow’s milk

  • added sugar, rusks or baby rice in their bottle

  • tea or coffee

  • medicines added to their bottle

6 months onwards

From about 6 months, plan to gradually introduce a cup or free-flow beaker for drinks.

Milk

Continue to use breast milk or infant formula as the main drink until 12 months. If using formula, choose first infant formula.

Breastfeeding

Types of formula milk

Small amounts of pasteurised full fat cow's milk can be used to prepare weaning foods from 6 months onwards. Cow’s milk should not be your child's main milk drink until they are 1 year old.

Cool boiled water

Offer your baby cooled boiled water in a cup at mealtimes or at snack times.

Fruit juices

Your baby does not need fruit juice or squash. If you choose to give your baby juices, only give them small amounts of well-diluted, unsweetened fruit juice. Dilute 1 measure pure fruit juice to 8 to 10 measures cooled boiled water.

Serve this in a beaker only at mealtimes and only from 1 year onwards.

Fizzy drinks

Do not give your baby fizzy drinks. They have a lot of sugar and acid, which are harmful to teeth. Fizzy drinks also fill up your baby’s small tummy so they may not want to eat their meals.

Tea and coffee

Do not give your baby tea or coffee. They make it difficult for iron to be absorbed and contain caffeine which is not recommended for babies.

12 months onwards

Aim to replace all bottles with a cup or beaker by the time your baby is about 1 year old. Aim that by 12 months of age, your child will use a cup for all drinks other than breastfeeds.

Continue to boil and cool both tap and bottled water for your baby until they are 12 months old.

Avoid using bottled water labelled as ‘natural mineral water’. This is because it can have higher levels of sodium and other minerals. You can use it only if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible.

Continue to avoid giving your child fizzy drinks. If you choose to give your child fruit juices, only give them small amounts of well-diluted, unsweetened fruit juice.

Water and milk are the healthiest drinks to give to your child.

Looking after your child's teeth

Helping your child to eat healthily

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.

Page last reviewed: 15 December 2022
Next review due: 15 December 2025