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When it comes to healthy food for children, we are very cautious about what is good for them and what is not. We always try to get our baby to develop healthy eating habits. But along with the right food, the right drinks are also important. We must steer clear of the following drinks for our babies as they may be tempting, or sometimes even traditional, but have been proven to be harmful!
If your baby has started consuming solids or semi-solids, you may have also introduced him to fluids other than his favourite milk! But while doing so, just remember to keep away from these dangerous choices for drinks that can lead to health problems in babies:
Before you are taken aback and shake your head, here’s the fact: water is indeed harmful but only for babies younger than the age of six months. At this time, they need only milk, either breastmilk or formula milk. If a baby drinks too much water, he can develop a condition called water intoxication. Here, water dilutes the sodium in the body, thus upsetting the electrolyte balance. This can cause swelling in the tissues and even lead to seizures!
Remember that after your baby is older, there is no substitute to water, no matter how much milk or juices a baby drinks. Water is the best source of hydration as it is free from calories and develops a habit of drinking a no sugar, low flavour drink to quench thirst.
2. Fruit Juice
Fruit juices have high sugar content and very low amount of fibre. Babies do not need extra sugar but they require fibre. It is always better to feed the baby with the fruit instead of giving juice. Yes, you can occasionally give your baby fruit juice made at home.
Health Tip: Mix this juice with a few vegetables and a little water in a blender instead of in a juicer. This will help in retaining the fibre in the juice!
3. Soft Drinks
Soft drinks and energy drinks have high sugar content and no nutrients at all. They are not good for babies and must be avoided as they take the place of other drinks and foods that are nourishing for the child. They can lead to tooth decay and weight gain too.
4. Flavoured Milk
Flavoured-milk is also very high in sugar content. It is always better to introduce babies to plain milk so they learn wholesome eating habits and don’t get too fond of flavoured milk. Getting them to enjoy healthy drinks is as important as making them eat healthy, so it’s better to encourage simple and nutritious choices as opposed to artificial flavours, right from an early age.
5. Caffeinated Drinks
Finally, please avoid any caffeinated drink such as tea or coffee or other drinks available in the market for your baby. Some moms sometimes add tea to the baby’s bottle to warm his milk. But the tannin present in tea prevents your baby from absorbing the iron, a very essential nutrient at this age, in his food.
6. Drinks With Honey
This again is harmful only for babies under a year as they have the risk of a rare type of food poisoning called infant botulism. You should completely avoid any beverages for your baby (or even foods) that are sweetened using honey. After your baby is older, this risk is eliminated.
So, Which Drinks Are Healthy For Babies?
Now that we have crossed out the unhealthy drinks, how should you go about choosing healthy fluids for your infant? Healthy drinks form an important part of a baby’s diet by adding a lot of nutrition along with food. Liquids help to keep them hydrated which in turn propels their growth. Here is a list of drinks that are suitable to be given to babies according to their age bracket.
Healthy Drinks For Babies Under 6 Months
Babies under six months should only be fed with breast milk and/or an infant formula. That is the only food they are given till six months from their birth. Formula fed babies can have a little bit of water 3-4 times a day, after discussing this with the doctor, as some babies can suffer from constipation and digestive problems when on formula.
Healthy Drinks For Babies Over 6 Months
Breast milk and formula need to be continued after six months as well. But along with milk, babies should be given boiled and cooled water. This will give the baby a little extra fluid, prevent dehydration, and promote better digestion since he begins to eat solid food as well. Any other drink other than breast milk, water and formula should not be given before twelve months as it might stop the baby from getting sufficient amount of breastfeed.
Beyond twelve months, babies can be given full-fat cow’s milk. They can obtain those vitamins which are fat soluble and present only in full fat milk. Alternatively, babies can also be given:
- Full fat soy-milk
- Plant based milk like almond
- Oat milk
- Rice milk
As a bottomline, remember that milk and water are among the healthiest fluid options for your baby, depending on his age. Start encouraging him to fall in love with these drinks as early as you can so you can stop them from growing up into a fussy eater!