Introducing Drinks & Beverages: What’s Right & What’s Not Day 2: Introducing Drinks & Beverages

Introducing Drinks & Beverages: What’s Right & What’s Not

Many new parents have a common concern: whether to offer any drinks or beverages to babies who are under 1 year old. Today, let’s explore this topic in detail along with our expert’s guidelines and recommendations.

Breast or Formula Milk Is Their Best Beverage!

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that babies under 1 year should be exclusively fed with breast milk or formula. During the first 6 months, breast milk or formula milk serves as the main source of hydration and nutrition for your little one. It contains the necessary nutrients, antibodies, and enzymes crucial for their growth and development. Alongside breast/formula milk, there are certain beverages or liquids that can also be introduced safely starting at 6 months, when your baby begins weaning.

Which Beverages Can Be Introduced

As your baby begins their solid food journey, there are certain liquids/beverages you can offer during mealtimes (accompanied with food), while you continue with their regular breast/formula feeds. These beverages can complement their meals while ensuring adequate hydration.

Here are some suitable options:

1) Liquids like curd, yogurt, buttermilk, kadhi, stew, rasam, and sambhar provide essential nutrients and can be introduced as part of your baby's mealtime routine. They offer variety in taste and texture while contributing to their overall nutritional intake.

2) Water can be introduced in small amounts after 6 months. It is important to note that breast milk or formula milk should still be the primary source of hydration for your baby. Offering small sips of water during mealtime or when they are thirsty can help familiarize them with the taste and concept of drinking water.

3) Water-rich fruits can be introduced as a safe and natural way to supplement your baby's hydration. These fruits not only provide essential nutrients but also offer a refreshing taste and texture for your little one to enjoy. Check out this earlier article for the list of fruits your baby can enjoy.

What Beverages to Avoid

While there are suitable beverages to introduce to your baby, it is equally important to be aware of those that should be avoided. These beverages are not recommended for babies under 12 months:

1) Honey in water: Honey should not be added to water for babies below 1 year due to the risk of botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by bacteria present in honey.

2) Sugar-sweetened or caffeinated drinks: Beverages such as fruit juices, sodas, colas, flavored milk or water, tea, coffee, and coconut water should be avoided. These drinks are often high in sugar or contain caffeine, which can be harmful to young babies. Fruit juices, in

TIP: Instead of fruit juices, offer whole fruits that are rich in water content!

Ensuring Proper Nutrient Balance

It's important to note that any additional fluids given to your baby at this age can displace the valuable nutrients present in breast milk or formula milk, which they need to consume for their optimal growth. Therefore, while introducing new beverages, continue to prioritize breast milk or formula milk as their primary source of nutrition.

What Drinks to Offer or Avoid: Quick Summary

Select Spice
0 to 6 months
Offer these drinks!

Breast milk/formula milk ONLY

Avoid these drinks!

1) plain water

2) honey water or sugar water

3) cow’s milk

4) flavored milk

5) non-dairy milk, also called cow’s milk alternatives

6) caffeinated beverages

7) low-calorie sweetened beverages

8) sugar-sweetened beverages

6 to 12 months
Offer these drinks!

Along with breast milk/ formula, you can offer:

1) sips of boiled and cooled water

2) curd, buttermilk, yogurt

3) thick soups, stew, rasam, sambhar, kadhi, dal

4) water-rich foods like cucumber, tomato, spinach, carrot, beetroot, watermelon, muskmelon, orange

Avoid these drinks!

1) cow’s milk or cow’s milk alternatives

2) flavored milk 

3) non-dairy milk, also called cow’s milk alternatives (almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, soy milk) 

4) caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee, energy drinks) 

5) low-calorie sweetened beverages (diet or light drinks, including those with stevia or sugar-free sweeteners)

6) sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, energy drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, soft drinks, tea, coffee)

Remember, every baby is unique, so please consult with your pediatrician for personalized advice based on your baby's individual needs. By following the recommendations provided here and focusing on breast milk or formula milk as the primary beverage, you can provide your baby with a balanced and healthy start to their journey of exploring different flavors and textures!

Tomorrow we will discuss the all important IMMUNITY! Stay tuned for tips to build your baby’s immunity and all the factors – apart from nutrition – that contribute to immunity.

Learn the right ways to nourish from experts