From birth to six months, the only drink that your baby needs is milk – ideally breastmilk, or, if you’re not breastfeeding, then formula. Regular milk feeds provide all the nutrients she needs to grow and develop.
But once your baby starts weaning, you’ll probably want to get her used to drinking water as well as milk. How much she drinks in a day will vary according to her thirst, but as long as she’s producing regular wet nappies, you can be sure that she’s taking enough fluids.
How much milk should my baby drink?
Most babies aged seven to nine months will need a breastfeed or a bottle of 7-8oz of milk first thing in the morning, once or twice throughout the day and at bedtime.
Until she’s well established on solids, your baby is likely to still want mid-morning and mid-afternoon milk feeds, but be guided by her: if she’s eating big meals, she may want less milk or to drop a feed altogether.
Some babies still want milk during the night at this stage, particularly if they’re not yet taking large quantities of solid food.
If your baby is waking at night, you might want to increase her bedtime bottle or breastfeed, or try to wean her off her night feed completely, perhaps by gradually reducing the amount of milk you give her or the length of her breastfeed night by night, or by offering a drink of water instead.
Before 12 months, the only milk suitable for your baby to drink is breastmilk or formula. Cow’s milk isn’t suitable as a main drink until she reaches 12 months old.
At this age, it’s a good idea to start giving your baby drinks of water, especially alongside her meals. Don’t expect her to drink masses: she’s unlikely to manage more than a small cupful throughout the day, although she may have more of a thirst in hot weather or if she’s unwell with a cold or temperature.
If your baby is over six months old, you can give her water straight from the tap. Give her drinks from a cup rather than a bottle in readiness for weaning her off bottles completely at or around 12 months old.
You may need to experiment with a range of different cups, including open cups, until you find one that she will happily drink from. Some non-spill cups have valved spouts which, although great for toddlers, can be particularly tricky for small babies to drink from.
If your baby refuses water and you feel she needs a non-milk drink, stick to plain, unsweetened fruit juice, which has been diluted with water. At this age, it’s recommended that you give her one part juice mixed with 10 parts water, and alongside meals, not in between.