Eating And Drinking
Breast Or Formula Milk Is Best For Babies
Babies should be exclusively breast or formula fed until around 6 months old. The best drinks for babies and toddlers are:
- from 0 to 6 months – breast milk or formula milk
- from 6 to 12 months – breast milk or formula milk and water (from 6-7 months).
- from 1 to 2 years – breast milk, whole cow's milk (dark blue lid) and water.
If your baby uses a bottle it is best if :
- Your baby is held while feeding and the bottle is removed when they are finished
- Your baby sleeps without a bottle
- Sweet drinks are not put in your baby’s bottle
Once babies have teeth, it is possible for them to get tooth decay from sucking on bottles over time or from sleeping with bottles. Sugars from sweetened drinks or milk will stay around your baby’s teeth for longer and at night there is less saliva present to protect baby's teeth.
Plaque, the soft sticky layer on teeth, contains bacteria which causes tooth decay. Plaque bacteria can be transferred to babies through sharing foods, bottles and dummies. If your baby uses a dummy it is best not to share it between people or put anything sweet on it like honey or fruit juice. Good oral health in caregivers can also help to protect children from tooth decay.
Drinking From A Cup
Babies should start to be introduced to drinking from a cup at around 6-7 months of age. It is best for your child not to use a baby bottle after 12 months of age. Use free flowing drink bottles for water only.
Parent Information Sheet (Canterbury DHB) : Teach Your Baby to Drink from a Cup
Healthy, Tooth-Friendly Snacks And Drinks
The kinds of foods and drinks children eat can impact the health of their teeth. The more often your child has sweet drinks and foods, the more likely they are to get tooth decay. Children do not have a preference for sugary drinks and foods, they learn to like them if sugar is consumed regularly. It is best to avoid providing your child with sugary foods and drinks. For more information about how sugar impacts your child's health read The truth about sugar - Heart Foundation
To help your child have a healthy smile :
- Eat 3 regular meals and small tooth-friendly snacks each day
- Drink water or plain milk
- Have sweet foods and drinks only occasionally (less than once a week) and have these at meal times
- Drink a glass of water after consuming sweet drinks or foods
Some great tooth friendly snacks are chopped or sliced raw fruit and vegetables, cheese, boiled eggs, baked beans and plain yoghurt.