It's important to keep babies hydrated. But their needs change as they grow.
0 to 6 months
Breastfed babies get all the nourishment they need from your milk. They do not need any other drinks. These would reduce the amount of breastmilk they take.
If you are formula feeding your baby, you can give them cooled boiled water. This will help if your baby is constipated.
Do not give your 0 to 6 month old baby:
- diluted pure unsweetened fruit juices
- 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.
Breast milk should be used as the main drink for the first year of life. If you choose not to breastfeed, standard infant formula should be used.
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.
Your baby doesn't need fruit juices. 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.
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
Cup or beaker
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.
You should 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.
You should 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.