What Should Your Baby Drink?
EDITED: 5:33PM Eastern, September 26, 2014
Before a year old, your baby really only needs breastmilk or formula as the liquid part of her diet. You can use other liquids for cooking, including milk or water.
Long story short, a baby is a baby human, not a baby cow. So cow’s milk is not very easily processed by a baby’s tummy because it isn’t made for a baby’s tummy.
Don’t offer milk as a beverage to your baby until a year old or more (my 15-month-old hasn’t had cow’s milk yet because he is nursing). Before a year, you can cook with milk without issue.
Water is great. We should all drink more water. But a baby has a tiny stomach, and water doesn’t offer any vitamins or healthy fats. It simply takes up space. If you’re nursing, you don’t need to offer any water. If you’re using formula, a sip of water here and there is okay if it’s more convenient.
The other issue with water is that there have been horror stories about mothers trying to save money by filling a baby’s bottle with water instead of formula or half water/half formula. Especially under 6 months, a baby needs as much nutrition as possible.
UPDATE: I want to make sure you don’t misunderstand. Water is NOT a bad thing. Offering a few sips of water can help with digestion or can help wash down something sticky/dry.
There is no need to give juice to your baby or toddler (or even big kid). Even “100% juice” is filled with sugar. Yes, it is natural sugar, but your body processes it the same way as it might process a soda. Consider a small glass of orange juice (let’s say 4 ounces). To get that much juice, you would need to juice 2-3 oranges. It is a small amount of juice, but a baby eating 2-3 oranges is a lot! And the juice doesn’t contain the “good stuff” that you get from the pulp. (You would also need about 2 apples to make 4 ounces of apple juice.)
There is one occasion when juice is okay: constipation. Sometimes an ounce of prune or pear juice is really helpful for clearing up a badly constipated baby (over 6 months!!). But there are other ways to encourage a bowel movement. You can bicycle her legs or press below her belly button (about 3 finger-lengths) in a clockwise motion.
A few folks mentioned the Doidy cup, which I don’t have experience with, but those recommenders were very enthusiastic! I am going to get one and try it myself. Then I’ll share a review and may even give one away! Here’s a link to buy one yourself (as I said, though, I’m not personally endorsing it just yet!).
If you’ve got specific questions or want to find out more info, please let me know! I didn’t pull this info out of thin air. I have heard it over the past year, but I don’t have all the articles and sources memorized. Please leave any feedback in the comments!