When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula or Breast Milk?

When do babies stop drinking formula? The answer is different for each baby, but our tips will help you figure out when your little one is ready.

Your little one is changing every day and so are her nutritional needs. Even though she is starting to look like a big kid as she cruises around the furniture and starts eating full toddler meals, there’s no rush to wean her from breast milk or formula.

When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula?

Your baby is most likely ready to transition to whole cow’s milk at 12 months old. Up until the one-year mark, she still needs breast milk or formula every day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends feeding your baby breast milk or formula exclusively until about 6 months old. Then it’s safe to start incorporating stage 1 baby foods like infant cereal, pureed fruits and cooked veggies. (Here’s a more in-depth look at when to start solid foods.)

Once your 12-month-old is eating a variety of solid foods, she is ready to transition away from formula. One-year-olds need whole milk for brain development but healthy foods for their daily nutrition. That is why it’s crucial that your little one eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats before weaning off breast milk or formula. While the AAP recommends waiting until one year to wean breastfeeding, it is safe and healthy to continue past your baby’s birthday if you’re not ready to wean.

When Can Babies Drink Water?

Most babies won’t need to start drinking water until their first birthday. It’s safe to offer small amounts once your baby turns 6 months but don’t be surprised if she’s not into it. It can take a few tries for your little one to get used to the new taste. You could try offering a few tablespoons of water with meals to start. Learn more about introducing water to babies.

Why Is Water Not Good for Infants?

Babies need breast milk or formula for all of their nutritional needs, so if they fill up their little tummies with water, they may not feel hungry for their next feeding. This could put them at risk for nutritional deficiencies and weight loss. For that same reason, it’s best to avoid fruit juice as well.

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.