Mlilk feeds means feeding your baby breastmilk or formula. Starting weaning does not mean stopping milk feeds. It is important to continue to feed your baby breastmilk or formula until they are only eating solid foods.
If you have breastfed your baby, guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend that it is beneficial to breastfeed until your baby is two years old, if you can, or for as long as you and your baby are happy to do so.
The UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative helps health professionals to help you continue to breastfeed if you have chosen to do so. Ask for help from a health professional, if you need it.
If you have fed your baby formula milk, you can give them cow's milk instead from one year of age.
Whether you have breastfed your baby or given them formula until weaning, they will need vitamin A, C and D supplements when they move onto cow's milk. It is recommended for children to keep taking these vitamins until they start school.
"It took six months before my baby (born at 27 weeks) intentionally swallowed anything. Even then, she was extremely fussy and everything had to be hard and crunchy. What helped me was remembering how far she had come: each extra 1ml of milk was an achievement when she was tiny, so each extra mini-mouthful should be celebrated too!"
Ellen, mum to Daisy
Before your baby is six months corrected age, you can offer your baby cooled boiled water in a beaker or cup at meal times. After six months corrected age, you do not need to boil the water.
Giving your baby water is important during hot weather to help them maintain fluid levels and avoid becoming constipated.
If you give your baby juice, make sure it is very diluted (more than the manufacturers' guidelines, which are suggested for adults).
Make sure that your baby doesn’t fill up on drink. This might make them less likely to eat.
You can offer cow's milk to your premature baby from around 12 months. They will also need vitamin A, C and D supplements until the age of five. You can buy these from your local baby pharmacy.
It's important for your baby to learn the skills for drinking from a free-flowing cup. You can start to offer a beaker or cup for drinks at around six to eight months corrected age. Formula can continue to be given in a bottle.
Non-spill beakers can make babies continue to use the sucking instinct for longer than ideal. In order to help develop the skills needed for drinking, try to use free-flowing beakers and cups.
Too much sugar and acid in the diet can cause tooth decay. Try to limit the amount of sugar your baby eats.
This includes limiting the amount of fruit juice your baby drinks. Water will hydrate them well. Always make sure any juice is diluted.
Even if your baby does not have teeth yet, you can still clean their mouth with a baby brush and a very small amount of toothpaste. This is good to do once you have introduced food which contains sugar.
You can ask a health professional about brushing teeth and if fluoride supplements might be needed.