Baby's first drink

Breast milk is always the best drink for a new baby. Breast-fed babies don’t need any other drinks in the first six months of life.

New babies

Breastfeeding will benefit you and your baby for as long as you choose to continue. It helps to build your baby’s immune system and prevent health problems later in life.

If you are using formula milk, continue using first stage whey-based milk for up to one year.

Breast milk is best

Breast milk or infant formula should be the main drink throughout the first year of life.

Continue with breast milk or infant formula as the main drink when you wean your baby.

For babies under six months needing an extra drink in addition to breast milk and formula give cooled, boiled tap water as a drink in addition to milk. From six months onwards there is no need to boil tap water.

For more information, see:

Formula milk

Always take extra care when making up infant formula; follow the instructions on the pack very carefully. Adding extra scoops can make your baby ill.

Make up one bottle of formula at a time. Once it is made up, it can go off quickly. Your health visitor can advise you on this.

Soya-based formula and follow-on milks

Soya-based formula contains sugars, which can cause tooth decay. Soya-based formula and follow-on milks should only be given if advised by your doctor, health visitor. This is because of possible long-term side effects of soya-based formula and its sugar content.

One year olds

From one year old, full-fat, pasteurised cow's milk is suitable as the main milk drink until your child is at least two years old. Babies up to the age of two have high energy needs compared to older children and adults and need more fat in their diet.

Two year olds

It is very important for babies and young children to have plenty of fluids to drink. It helps their body to function properly and prevents constipation. Between the ages of two and five, you can gradually move your child from drinking whole milk to semi-skimmed milk; but make sure it is part of a good, varied diet.

Choosing drinks without sugar for your baby will:

  • Set healthy habits for life.
  • Help prevent decay in first teeth.
  • Keep your baby’s smile beautiful.
  • Improve your baby’s overall health and nutrition.