Up until now, you have probably been consumed with thinking about whether your little one is getting enough milk. If that’s you, then plenty of wet diapers is the best sign.
As a newborn, babies get all the fluid they need from your breast milk or formula milk. But as you introduce solid food, their appetite for milk starts to reduce. At this point you may want to consider extra forms of hydration, especially as their activity levels increase.
Until they are 6 months old though, there is no need for your baby to drink anything but breast milk or formula.
Once they are 6 months old and you are introducing foods to them, you may like to offer them a small amount of water at mealtimes (tap or filtered is fine). They won’t need a lot but those few sips will get them used to the taste and also help them learn to drink from a cup. If you choose, you can offer diluted fruit juices (1 part juice to 10 parts water) but avoid soda and other sugary drinks.
Once they turn 12 months old, you may still be breastfeeding but you can introduce full fat cow's milk, or even pasteurised goat's and sheep's milk if you're feeling adventurous. Offer water or diluted juice in a cup at mealtimes and throughout the day but try to avoid fizzy drinks, hot drinks and drinks with artificial sweeteners.
Every baby is different and they will soon let you know what they do and don’t like. However, there are some general principles that can help when choosing bottles and cups as they grow.
Once they are old enough to introduce water and other liquids, usually at around 6 months, consider a cup with handles (usually removable) and either a soft spout or straw. You'll probably want a non-spill valve, as learning to drink is pretty messy. By using a cup with a removable valve, your baby can practice free flow drinking, i.e. they don't have to suck. This uses different muscles and can be good for their oral development.
Once they are around 12 months old, then this is a good age to move on from nippled bottles to just cups. Your little one may already know if they prefer a spout or straw, or you could try a sports top so they feel a little more grown up! Before long they may also be happy drinking from an open cup - it really is about finding a way of drinking that suits you both.
A non-spill valve is still a practical help, and you may want to consider cups that are dishwasher safe, as your little one will be out and about a lot more now.