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Q:My baby is 7 months old and is re­ally start­ing to en­joy her solids, and I feel quite con­fi­dent about what to feed her. She seems to en­joy just about ev­ery­thing. What I am how­ever very un­cer­tain about, is drinks. Should I start to in­tro­duce wa­ter? How? And how much and when? I am still breast­feed­ing her, but would like to wean at about 9 months in or­der to start work­ing again. Can she just have wa­ter to drink then? Or cow’s milk? Or mixed with rooi­bos tea? The liq­uids are re­ally con­fus­ing me.

A:as soya, rice, oat or al­mond are not suit­able for ba­bies un­der one year of age as a drink.

Wa­ter is the best sup­ple­men­tary drink and a few sips can be of­fered via a bot­tle or cup with every meal or be­tween meals dur­ing hot­ter pe­ri­ods. It is good prac­tice to get your child en­joy­ing the taste of wa­ter from an early age to avoid her pre­fer­ring sug­ary sweet drinks when she is older. If you choose to of­fer unsweet­ened fruit juice, di­lute it be­fore giv­ing it to her (about 10 parts wa­ter to one part juice). While fruit juices do con­tain some vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, they’re also very sug­ary and acidic and may cause tooth de­cay if given too fre­quently. You can of­fer rooi­bos tea with­out added sugar, how­ever, avoid black tea or cof­fee as they con­tain caf­feine and can re­duce the amount of iron and other nu­tri­ents ab­sorbed from food.

Avoid drinks con­tain­ing added sug­ars, like squashes, fizzy drinks, flavoured milks and en­ergy drinks as well as diet drinks. They can fill your baby up, re­duc­ing her in­take of proper foods, and are too sug­ary for chil­dren, pro­mot­ing a de­sire for sweet­ened drinks.

Drinks should be given from an open cup or a lid­ded free-flow beaker (no valve) with two han­dles rather than a bot­tle. This will help your baby learn to sip rather than suck, which is im­por­tant for the de­vel­op­ment of mus­cles used for speech, and is bet­ter for her teeth. YB

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