During the first 6 months of life, the only fluid a healthy baby needs is your precious breast milk and/or artificial formula. Babies at this age nurse or take a bottle to satisfy both their hunger and their thirst. Ask any breastfeeding Mom and she will tell you, sometimes she knows her baby is not hungry but wants to nurse anyway. Her baby will nurse for just a couple of minutes – then he or she is happy. Most likely her baby was just thirsty!
At 6 months of age, babies are being introduced to baby foods (see previous BLOG for information on introducing baby foods). At this point you can start offering water at meal time to help your baby wash down their food and for thirst. You can put water in a cup or sippy cup and offer your baby a drink every few bites. At this age, your baby generally does not need more than 4-8oz of plain water per day. Between 6 and 12 months of age, the only fluids needed are breast milk and/or artificial formula and up to 8oz of water each day. Although you may enjoy juice, tea, cola, sports drinks, etc – babies absolutely do not need these types of beverages!
How do you introduce your baby to a cup?
Many babies take naturally to a cup – they see their parents drinking from a cup and start reaching for it. Whether you choose to start your baby on a sippy cup or a regular cup is up to you and your tolerance for messes. Many babies do fine with a regular cup, some even do really well with a straw. Regardless of which type of cup you use, babies start showing interest in drinking from a cup around 6 months of age. You will know when your baby is ready for a cup when he/she is eating baby foods and is sitting up without support. Start by offering just an ounce or two of breast milk, artificial formula or water. Be prepared for spills – they ARE going to happen. Using just a small amount in the cup, while baby gets the hang of drinking, will help decrease the impact of spills. At first you will have to hold the cup for your baby, eventually your baby will be coordinated enough to hold the cup for themselves – especially if it has handles.
Helping your baby learn to use the cup is the first step towards weaning – the subject of my next blog. Enjoy this messy, exciting time with your baby as they take one "baby step" away from infancy and towards independence.
DHS 4369F(R-04-11)FYB – Time for a cup. State of Illinois