Nourishing Nectars: Other Than Milk and Water, What's Best for Baby?

Nourishing Nectars: Other Than Milk and Water, What's Best for Baby?

It is generally recommended that babies be given breast milk or infant formula for the first six months of life or until they begin eating solid foods. Once solid foods are a part of mealtime, water is your best option, although other drinks can be introduced. Let’s consider what liquids your baby can ingest once he or she has begun to eat solid foods.

Starting with Milk

If you are not feeding breastmilk or want to introduce cow’s milk, know that not every kind of milk is ideal for a baby. For the first six months of life breast milk or infant formula will provide all the nutrients necessary and should be the exclusive source of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that your baby receives.

After your baby’s first birthday, nourishing whole-fat cow’s milk can be introduced as it contains calcium, protein, and vitamin D.

Sheep’s milk and goat’s milk are generally not considered suitable for babies under a year old because the nutrients are not complete for a baby’s needs. When your child does reach his or her first birthday, these milk types are fine as long as they are pasteurized.

Pasteurized kinds of milk can be used in cooking from six months of age up.


Once you have begun feeding your baby solid foods for three meals a day, you will want to integrate liquids other than breast milk or formula milk, particularly in warmer seasons. Water is always your best option. It’s much healthier to train your baby to expect a drink of water as opposed to sugary beverages.

If your baby is under six months old, you can use kitchen tap water as long as you boil it. All boiled water should be allowed to cool before being given to an infant. Avoid using bathroom tap water, as depending on your system, bathroom water may be stored in a storage tank rather than being supplied directly.

Boiling is unnecessary once the baby has reached six months of age unless it is being used to make infant formula.

Bottled Water – Is It Better?

No, bottled water is not healthier than tap water and will not be sterile. Some natural mineral waters can be problematic for babies due to the mineral amounts that they contain. All natural spring water may be a better choice. Nonetheless, bottled waters should be consulted for the amount of sulfate or sodium that they contain. Commercially bottled water may contain too much for a baby. Check bottle labels to ascertain that the water does not surpass 800 milligrams per gallon. Sulfate should not be more than 1000 milligrams per gallon.

As with tap water, bottled water will need to be boiled for babies under six months or to make a formula.

How Much Water Daily?

For babies that have reached six months of age, the daily dose of water should measure between four and six ounces.

Nourishing Nectars – Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are the obvious choice for moms everywhere when looking for a little variety for a baby’s drinking. It is best to avoid giving fruit juice to babies before one year of age. While it is not necessary to give your infant fruit juice, you can do so if you‘d like to as long as it is diluted. 10 parts water to 1 part fruit juice will be fine.  

The risks associated with fruit juices for babies are due to their sugar content and the fact that they are acidic. This can cause tooth decay. Orange juice, as well as other fruit juices, is a great source of vitamin C, so when properly diluted, it qualifies as nourishing nectar.

Babies should not drink fruit juices undiluted or 100% juices until they reach one year of age. Avoid drinks with added sweeteners.

Is Soy Milk Good for Babies?

Made from soybeans, this plant-based milk does contain important minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium. Soy milk is not appropriate for babies under a year of age. As it does not contain adequate nutrients that babies need. At a year of age, fortified, unsweetened soy milk can be a substitute for cow’s milk. 

Is Almond Milk Good for Babies?

While a very popular plant-based milk, almond milk is not appropriate for babies under a year of age again because it does not contain sufficient nutrients.  Many experts recommend not giving plant-based kinds of milk until five years of age. The only exception is for children with lactose allergies or intolerances. In these cases, fortified, unsweetened soy milk is a better option, but you should consult with a pediatrician.

Nourishing Nectars for Babies

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research consulted several important health organizations for recommendations on what babies should or should not drink and when.

  • Birth to Six months 

Breast milk or infant formula only

  • Six to Twelve months

Breast milk or infant formula, drinking water with the introduction of solid foods.

  • Twelve to Twenty-four months

Whole cow’s milk can be introduced as well as plain drinking water.

  • Two to Five Years of age

Milk with less fat such as skim milk, and fruit juices either in small amounts or diluted.

Unsuitable Drinks for Babies

Children under five years of age should not be given these beverages:

  • Carbonated sodas or beverages
  • Diet beverages, low-calorie drinks, or “no added sugar” beverages
  • Flavored kinds of milk such as chocolate or strawberry
  • Plant-based or non-dairy kinds of milk such as almond, oat, or rice 
  • Herbal drinks
  • Smoothies
  • Toddler formulas
  • Energy drinks
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol 

The Bottom Line

Breast milk, infant formulas, regular cow’s milk, and water are optimal for babies. Other liquids are not necessary. When they are provided to your child, they might harm his or her health. The only exception to this will be for babies with allergies or intolerances to lactose or other components present. In cases of intolerances or allergies, soy milk may be recommended. However, consult your family pediatrician for the best advice for your child and any specific medical needs he or she may have.

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