6 Months – Drinks and your child
Water is safe, free and it is by far the best drink of choice for you and your child. Introducing alternatives to your child is simply not necessary. Drinks such as juice, cordials, sport drinks or soft drinks might reduce your child’s long-term and short-term acceptance to water.
Encourage water consumption from an early age:
- Offer water to your baby/child often during the day.
- Always have a bottle of water with you when out.
- Be a role model by drinking water yourself rather than tea, coffee or soft drinks.
- Offer cooled boiled water in a cup from around 6 months of age.
Sugar in drinks:
Drinks that contain sugar such as fruit juices, soft drinks, sports drinks and flavoured milks are not recommended for infants and young children.
High sugar drinks:
- promote tooth decay
- increase the likelihood of weight gain as they are high in kilojoules (energy) but often low in nutrients
- can easily fill up a small tummy and reduce a child’s appetite for more nutritious foods
- increase appetite for more sweet foods.
Points of interest:
- Breast milk, formula and plain cow’s milk contain the naturally occurring sugar ‘lactose’. These drinks are not considered to be ‘sweet drinks’ as they contain protein, calcium and other nutrients essential for healthy bones and teeth. Also, the fat and protein in the milk helps balance out how fast the sugar is absorbed in your body.
- Half of an orange provides all of the vitamin C a child needs and some important fibre for bowel function. Fruit juice is very easy to over consume. It takes around three whole oranges to make one cup of orange juice, but as there is no chewing involved, and most of the fibre is lost – it becomes easy to over consume unnecessary kilojoules (energy).
Guess the number of teaspoons of sugar in each of the drinks below.
- 250 ml tetra pack of Ribena
- 600 ml bottle of soft drink
- 250 ml bottle of juice
- 300 ml carton flavoured milk
- 375 ml bottle of soft drink
- 375 ml can of flavoured mineral water
- 1 glass of water
- 250 ml tetra pack of Ribena – 9 teaspoons
- 600 ml bottle of soft drink – 20 teaspoons
- 250 ml bottle of juice – 7 teaspoons
- 300 ml carton flavoured milk – 7 teaspoons
- 375 ml bottle of soft drink – 10 teaspoons
- 375 ml can of flavoured mineral water – 1 teaspoon
- 1 glass of water – 0 teaspoons
Breast and bottle then what?
Around the time you introduce solids is a good time to begin to offer water in a cup, which, like learning to eat, takes practice, practice and more practice. Copying you is also important.
Why a cup?
Using a cup increases movement of the jaw and chin, this improves co-ordination, control and flexibility of the tongue and lips, and then talking! Using a cup will also help increase independence and hand coordination.
How do I start offering a cup?
- Tilt the cup towards baby and get your baby to tuck their chin in and come towards the cup, not the other way around. This helps them to purse their lips on the curved lip of the cup.
- Use a clear or transparent cup with large handles (for gripping) so you and the baby can see the liquid inside.
- A small cup with a small rim size will fit baby’s mouth best.
- Other cups are useful when you are out, such as sipper and straw cups. Controlling the swallowing of fluid is more difficult with these as a baby’s head is tilted back and the chin is held forward. The actions used with these are similar to sucking from a bottle.
> Useful resources for Session Two: 6 Months