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When it comes to raising your baby – you know what’s best for your little one to give them the best start in life.
One area that can feel like a minefield to new parents is the world of food. It can be overwhelming enough to know what’s healthy and what’s not for adults; never mind knowing what’s best for your baby’s diet. Upto the age of 6 months your baby’s diet should be exclusively breast milk, combination or infant formula milk. From the age of 6-12 months these milks remain the foundation of your baby’s diet as you start to introduce solid foods. But is there a point on the journey that you can introduce a milkshake into your baby’s diet? In this article we explore why it’s best to avoid giving your baby a milkshake as well as some other key information about consuming alternative milks before your baby turns 1.
Can I give my baby a milkshake?
Milkshake is not a suitable drink for young babies. Any drinks such as flavoured milk, squash, fizzy pop, ‘fruit’ or ‘juice’ drinks are not suitable for young babies because they contain sugar and can cause tooth decay even when diluted. According to the NHS, even for older babies and toddlers it is best to avoid any drinks with added sugar as these drinks can lead to poor appetite, limited weight gain and, in toddlers, diarrhoea. Milkshakes containing artificial sweeteners opposed to sugar aren’t advised either as these artificial sweeteners can encourage children to develop a sweet tooth.
At what age can I start introducing milk to my baby?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NHS the only milk your baby needs for the first 6 months of their life is breast milk. Breast milk should continue to be given to your baby once solid foods are introduced via an increasingly varied diet. The only alternative milk for the first 12 months of your baby’s life is infant formula milk. From age 1 and onwards, animal and plant based milks can be given to your baby either on cereals (like weetabix) or to drink alone as part of a varied diet. There are so many milk alternatives such as soya, almond and coconut; purchase the unsweetened and calcium-fortified options to give to your toddler as part of a healthy diet. Children aged 5 and under should not be given rice milk due to the arsenic levels. If your child has a milk allergy or intolerance and you are looking for alternatives, please contact your health visitor or GP as they will be able to offer the best advice for yours and your child’s needs.
Can babies have milk at 6 months old?
For the first 6 months of your baby’s life it is recommended by the WHO and the NHS that your baby is exclusively fed breast milk or infant formula milk. From 6 months you can then begin to introduce your little one to the world of solid foods. From 6-12 months of age, as your baby begins to eat more solid foods, the amount of breast and formula milk they consume will start to decrease. At this stage other than solid foods, your little one should still only be having breast or infant formula milk for their milk feeds. Of course you can use other milks when cooking or over cereal, but when it comes to a drink of alternative milk; this should only be given once your baby is over 12 months of age.
Which milk should my baby have?
We hope you have found this article insightful. Your baby should only have breast or infant formula milk from birth to six months. Between the ages of 6 to 12 months you can introduce solid foods to your little one alongside the above mentioned milks. Alternative milks such as cow’s milk, oat milk or soya milk can be given to your little one as a drink after the age of 1. It is best to avoid flavoured drinks such as milkshake because of the added sweeteners and sugars; these are harmful to babies and toddlers and will likely create tooth decay.