Learning to Drink
At six months of age, a toddler can learn to drink from a regular cup. Sip cups don’t help your toddler learn to drink from a cup because most sip cups are just bottles in disguise. Instead of using a sip cup, encourage your toddler to sit down with you when she or he has a drink from a cup, rather than walking around with it.
By offering your toddler small amounts of water starting at six months, you will be helping him or her get used to the taste of water. Breast milk is still an important source of nutrition, so water should not replace breast milk altogether.
Toddlers do not need juice. If you decide to give juice, choose 100% unsweetened juice and offer no more than 60 to 125 ml (1/4 – 1/2 cup) of juice a day. Juice and other sweetened beverages can make your toddler feel full. This makes meal times more challenging. Avoid unpasteurized juices because they may contain harmful bacteria. Do not offer sweetened fruit beverages, pop, slushes, or caffeinated beverages.
Your toddler does not need any milk other than breast milk if she or he continues to breastfeed. If your toddler is no longer breastfeeding, you can offer whole (homogenized) cow’s milk or goat’s milk when he or she is eating a variety of iron‑rich solid foods. It is safest to wait until your toddler is between 9 to 12 months old to start offering whole (homogenized) milk.
Sometimes toddlers would rather drink cow’s milk or goat’s milk than eat solid foods. But too much cow’s or goat’s milk fills up a toddler’s small tummy and leaves little room for other healthy foods. Toddlers who drink too much cow’s or goat’s milk are at risk for not getting enough iron (iron deficiency). Limit your toddler to 500 ml (2 cups) of cow’s or goat’s milk a day.
If you choose goat’s milk, make sure it is pasteurized and full-fat. Most goat’s milk does not contain vitamin D. Be sure to give your toddler a Vitamin D supplement if you give him or her goat’s milk. For more information about vitamin D supplements, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to talk to a dietitian.
Soy or rice beverages are safe choices after your toddler is 24 months old. For healthy growth and development, choose a soy or rice beverage that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.