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Giving baby extra drinks

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, then they don’t need extra fluids.

  • Giving water or other drinks reduces the intake of breast milk, and
  • Your baby will be less likely to meet their energy requirements.

Exclusive breastfeeding also protects the infant from infection.

  • It means they’re not exposed to food- or waterborne pathogens.
  • It supplies several components that improve the infant’s ability to resist infection.

Best drinks for babies are:

  • breast milk (or formula, if breast milk unavailable) from 0–6 months
  • breast milk (or formula) and water from 7–12 months
  • breast milk, whole cows’ milk and water from 1–2 years.

Breastfed babies do not need anything but breast milk for the first six months.

For formula-fed babies it is different.

  • If baby is hungry and demands more, give more to drink at each feed or add an extra feed.
  • They may need boiled, cooled water as well as formula.

Try to give a baby breast-milk only until they baby are ready for and need extra food – this will be around six months of age. After that continue breastfeeding, and introduce complementary foods. You can offer some water in a cup, although baby can still meet their fluid requirements from breast milk.

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