Breast milk or formula feeds offer babies all the hydration and nutrients they need before six months. You should only offer breast milk to babies under six months of age since giving your baby water before this can lead to serious issues with their metabolite balance and their organs.
Once your baby turns six months old, they can start to eat solids. With this solid food, you can also add small sips of water to their diet too. There is a chance that breastfed or formula-fed babies may not need water even after six months, or they may need it before, but generally, six months is a good mark for when you should give them water. Younger babies should drink about 4-8 ounces of water a day and no more. Any more can cause water intoxication.
Do Babies Need Water?
Of course, newborns need water, but how much depends on age and whether the baby is breastfed or given formula.
For the first six months, a baby’s hydration requirements can be fully satisfied by breastmilk or formula. But as solid foods are introduced after six months, babies might need more water to stay hydrated, particularly in hot weather or if they somehow fall sick, which can cause them to lose water content from their bodies. In addition to their usual milk consumption, it is generally advised that babies between the ages of 6 and 12 months drink 4 to 8 ounces of water daily.
One must remember that babies less than six months old shouldn’t be given water since their kidneys aren’t ready to take the extra pressure, and doing so might result in an electrolyte imbalance or even water intoxication. Instead, the main source of hydration before six months should be breastmilk or formula.
It’s ideal for providing water in a sippy cup or a small quantity in a bottle, first adding it to a baby’s diet, and closely checking their consumption. Finding the proper balance is of the utmost importance since both overhydration and dehydration can prove to be extremely harmful.
Making your baby develop good cup-drinking skills will ultimately help you when the baby grows older and needs more fluids.
Can Water Be Dangerous for Babies?
Yes, especially for babies under six months of age, water can actually be harmful. When newborns are given water before their kidneys are ready to handle it, it can cause water intoxication, which can be fatal.
When a newborn drinks too much water, their electrolyte balance gets upset, which causes their blood sodium levels to drop dangerously low. This condition is known as water intoxication. This may result in symptoms including nausea, fatigue, convulsions, and, in more serious situations, coma and death.
Additionally, during the first six months of life, giving babies water instead of breastmilk or formula can affect their nutritional requirements. A newborn needs the nutrients found in breast milk and formula to grow properly; therefore, substituting water for them might result in malnutrition.
Remember that sometimes offering water to newborns might also raise the danger of illnesses. The water may include dangerous germs or parasites that can make babies sick if it has not been properly sterilized or filtered.
Should a Newborn Be Given Water?
No, you shouldn’t give water to a newborn. Breastmilk or formula, both of which include all the nutrients and fluids required for a newborn’s growth and development, can satisfy their hydration demands.
Giving water to a baby is dangerous since their kidneys are still developing and may become electrolyte-balanced or water intoxicated, as mentioned before. Water can interfere with a newborn’s nutritional demands and result in malnutrition because it has no nutritional value for them.
For the first six months of life, newborns should only be breastfed, according to recommendations from both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP). Formula should be a baby’s main nourishment and hydration source if fed. Babies might need more water to be hydrated after the introduction of solid meals around six months of age, but this should be done gradually and in moderate amounts.
What Is the Perfect Time to Introduce Babies to Water?
When a baby is six months old and starting to consume solid meals, it is the ideal moment to introduce them to water. Babies’ kidneys are more developed and capable of handling the increased fluids at this age. Water introduction at this period can also be helpful in encouraging proper hydration, particularly in hot weather or if the infant is unwell and losing fluids.
Water should not substitute for any meals for babies under one year of age; breastmilk or formula should remain the main source of food. In order to ensure that a baby is still receiving enough breastmilk or formula to satisfy their nutritional demands, it’s also important to closely check their water consumption.
It’s always better to speak with a professional if you have any concerns about adding water to your baby’s diet.
Tips to Ensure Your Baby Is Getting Enough Water
Here are some recommendations to make sure your baby is drinking enough water:
- When your baby begins eating solid foods, give them sips of water in a sippy cup or a small amount in a bottle to go along with their meals. This can help them develop healthy hydration behaviors.
- Keep an eye out for thirst cues in babies. While they may not be able to communicate it, signs of thirst include fussiness, dry mouth or lips, and a decrease in urination. You should give your baby water if you observe any of these symptoms.
- Avoid sugary drinks: Since sugary drinks can cause tooth decay and other health problems for everyone, especially newborns, it is advisable to stay with water as their main source of hydration. Juice and other sweetened beverages shouldn’t be given to babies since they can mess with their nutritional needs.
- You should keep an eye on your baby’s water intake to make sure they aren’t dehydrated or overhydrated. As a general rule, infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months should have 4 to 8 ounces of water every day in addition to their usual milk consumption.
- Be careful when your kid is sick: To avoid dehydration, you should give them extra water than normal if they are vomiting or diarrheal and losing fluids.
What Are Alternates to Water for Babies?
There are a few alternatives to water that can be offered to babies once they start eating solid foods.
Breast milk or formula
For babies less than one year of age, breastmilk or formula should still be the main source of hydration. Offer your baby a small amount of breastmilk or formula if they appear to be thirsty in between feedings.
Coconut baby water
For babies older than six months, coconut water, a natural supply of electrolytes, can be an excellent substitute for water. It has a somewhat sweet flavor that babies could like and minimal calories.
Fruit and vegetable juices
Due to their high water content, fruits and vegetables can help keep newborns hydrated. Give your babies meals that include vegetable and fruit juice, such as watermelon or apple juices.
Broth or soup
Broth or soup can provide hydration and also offer some nutrients. Homemade bone broth or vegetable soup can be a good option for babies over six months of age.
Some herbal teas, such as chamomile or fennel, can be safe for babies over six months of age and can also provide some hydration. However, it’s important to stay away from teas with caffeine and to speak with a doctor before giving your baby any herbal teas.
What Should I Expect When Giving Water to My Baby?
When giving water to your baby, there are a few things you should expect:
- Spitting up: Because they are not used to ingesting liquids other than breastmilk or formula, babies may spit up or cough when they first try water. This is normal and generally not a reason for alarm.
- Small amounts: At first, give water in small amounts because babies may not be able to deal with a lot of water at once. Start with a tiny quantity in a bottle or a few drinks from a straw cup, and then gradually increase the amount over time.
- Regular urination: Your baby should urinate often if they are drinking enough water. Your infant’s diaper should be changed 6-8 times per day, and the urine should be clear or light yellow.
- Thirst cues: Although babies cannot tell you when they are thirsty, there are several symptoms to look for, such as fussiness, dry lips or mouth, or lesser urination, all of which were mentioned before too. These are helpful when you start giving your baby water because you may give them less than they actually need.
- Keep an eye out for overhydration: This is just as harmful as dehydration, so it’s important to keep an eye on your baby’s water intake. Swelling, a sudden increase in weight, and behavioral changes are all symptoms of overhydration. Get in touch with a medical professional if you observe any of these symptoms.
Do Babies Need Boiled Water?
It is advised to boil any tap water you plan to feed your baby and then let it cool before doing so. Boiling the water kills any bacteria or germs that may be present in the water, making it safer for your baby to drink.
This is especially important if you get water from a private well or live in a region where tap water might not be deemed safe to drink. Furthermore, if your child is younger than six months, their immune system might not be strong enough to defend them against specific kinds of bacteria that are found in water.
The majority of germs, viruses, and parasites are typically eliminated by boiling the water for one minute. Before giving the water to your baby, let it cool to room temperature after it has boiled. The lips of your infant might be burned if you use hot water straight from the tap.
Remember that you don’t need to boil water if you’re using bottled water. Check the label to make sure it is safe for newborns and doesn’t include any additional fluoride, though.
What Are The Safety Tips When Introducing Babies?
Introducing water to your baby can be a new and exciting experience, but it’s important to take certain safety tips into consideration to ensure your baby’s health and well-being. These are some tips to keep in mind when introducing water to your baby:
- Wait until the baby is prepared: Babies often begin to drink small quantities of water when they are approximately six months old and have begun eating solid meals. Breastmilk or formula should be the child’s main source of hydration up to this point.
- Offer small amounts of water to your baby: Begin by giving your child a few sips of water from a sippy cup or a small amount in a bottle. Increase the quantity slowly as the baby grows more accustomed to drinking water.
- Safe water sources should be used: if you must use tap water, boil it first and let it cool before giving it to your baby. If you want to use bottled water, ensure sure it is fluoride-free and healthy for newborns. Don’t give your infant water from dangerous water sources like rivers or lakes.
- No flavors or sweeteners: Do not flavor or sweeten your baby’s water. This may cause tooth decay and make it more challenging for your child in the future to drink simple water.
- Supervision: Always keep an eye on your kid when they are drinking water to avoid choking or other mishaps. When drinking, make sure your baby is seated straight and not on his or her back.
- Signs of dehydration: Even with the addition of water, breastmilk or formula should remain the baby’s main source of hydration. Watch for signs of dehydration. Keep an eye on any visible symptoms of dehydration, such as reduced urination, dry mouth, and fussiness.
Young babies should only be fed breast milk or formula before the age of six months. Breast milk and infant formula are enough to keep the baby hydrated. When your baby starts to drink water, he/she must at least be over six months old. Remember that when babies drink water for the first few times, they will have certain changes, like more frequent wet diapers, more need for water by their growing bodies, or even dehydration and overhydration. You should contact your pediatrician or local health department to make sure that you introduce water to your child at the right time. Nonetheless, regular milk feeds should continue, even though the baby might need less breast milk or baby formula now.