When & How to Introduce Water to Babies

The rules of frequently drinking water and meeting a certain quantity for overall health and hydration that we follow, do not apply to babies. This leads us to several questions, like ‘from which month can newborns drink water?’ and ‘what are the signs of dehydration in babies?’ You may even wonder if a 1 month old can even drink water? .So, let us take a look at all the relevant and accurate details about how to give water to babies.

When Can Babies Start Drinking Water?

Many new parents are not sure of when they should introduce water in their baby’s diet. Unlike adults who must consume significant quantities of water everyday, the case is different for infants. Their water requirement varies according to age, and giving too much water before their systems are ready for it can have adverse effects.

Birth to 4 Months

Breastfed babies do not need any additional water, since breast milk is considered to be a super food that meets all the dietary and fluid requirements of an infant. This is because breastmilk provides the required quantity of fluids that your baby needs to stay hydrated. In short, you shouldn’t even be concerned about providing extra water for newborn baby as long as you nurse on demand.

A formula-fed baby also doesn’t require too much additional water. Most infant formulas contain specific instructions for the amount of water to be added for sufficient dilution. When you follow these instructions and adjust the consistency of the formula to the age of the baby, it sufficiently keeps him hydrated when he feeds on time.

5 – 8 Months

Should babies drink water during these months? The answer is that there is no hard and fast rule in this regard. Until they are 6 months old, there is no need for your baby to drink anything apart from breast milk or formula. Water is generally introduced to babies once they are past the newborn stage and slowly transitioning to foods beside breast milk.

Babies usually start with solid food between 5 and 8 months of age. At this time, you can provide water in a sippy cup for your baby to sip on few times a day. This needn’t be too frequent, assuming that you are still breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby, besides providing solids.

9 – 12 Months

Once they turn a year old or so, you may continue breastfeeding, but offer water or diluted juice in a cup at mealtimes. However, avoid giving fizzy drinks or drinks with artificial sweeteners. As a new mother, you may be confused about your baby’s water needs. Since they are too little to express thirst, you may be worried that your baby isn’t hydrated properly, and if you should supplement breastmilk with water. But, just like he expresses thirst, your little one will also be able to express thirst through certain signals like grizzling.

How Can I Introduce Water to Infants?

Water should be given to infants only after they start solid foods. Till they are a year old, their kidneys haven’t matured sufficiently to metabolise too much water. As a result, their water needs are minimal. However, it is possible to introduce your child to the taste of water by providing your baby small sips at a time. You can fill the baby’s bottle or sippy cup with water and give him a few sips from it, when he expresses thirst. Also, don’t give your baby water from an open cup, till he is much older.

How Much Water to Give Babies?

If you are wondering how much water for 6 month old baby is essential, you must know that it depends on the child and his food habits. If he is still breastfed, a few sips are more than enough to satiate him. Baby dehydration is rare when babies get their required fluids from breast milk or formula feed. So, this shouldn’t be a concern. Babies who are younger than 4 months of age do not need water to be separately provided to them. Their bodies are hydrated from the fluids in their feeds.

Water Intoxication in Babies

While too much water doesn’t cause any irreparable damage in healthy adults, it can be pretty dangerous in young babies. Giving children, who are younger than 6 months, too much water can disrupt the body’s natural ability to absorb nutrients from breast milk or formula feed. Drinking extreme amounts in very short spans of time can cause the sodium level in their bodies to drop. Their kidneys aren’t mature enough to handle large quantities of water at a time, and this can lead to a dangerous condition called water intoxication. If there are symptoms of water intoxication in your baby, such as blurry vision, irritability or exhaustion following water consumption, it requires immediate medical attention. Too much water can cause seizures in babies. This is also the same reason why it isn’t wise to administer swimming lessons to young infants. In the likelihood that they gulp down huge quantities of water while in the pool, it can cause water intoxication and lead to a medical emergency.

Do Babies Need to Drink Water Anytime?

Although a newborn baby doesn’t need to drink water, their bodies will need it as they grow older. So, as your baby grows, you can safely introduce water into his diet. Babies can drink about 30 ml of water till the time they are 4-6 months old, but restrict any more quantity of water. You can slowly increase his water intake when your child is 9 months to 1 year of age. Once your child is a year old, his body system is mature enough to tolerate larger quantities of water. However,even after he reaches his first birthday, keep the water intake under regulation.

FAQs on Giving Water to Your Child

Let us address some of the most common doubts regarding giving water to young babies and clear any further confusion.

1. Is it Safe to Give Water to 6 Months Old or Younger Baby?

The answer is that you can always give a few sips of water to children between the age of 4 to 6 months. However, quantities that are greater than 30-60 ml are unsafe in a single day.

2. Can We Dilute Formula With Water?

If you are using ready-to-use formula, you may not need to add any water to it. However, if you are using powdered formula, you will need to add water to mix it up. Be careful to not mix more water than is recommended, as it may cause complications like a seizure.

3. When Can Babies Start Drinking Water?

Many parents wonder about  the age at which you can give a baby water. As was mentioned earlier, infants who are breastfed and formula fed do not need additional water. It is in fact recommended that water be introduced into a baby’s diet only after he is 4-6 months old.

4. What if an Infant Become Dehydrated?

A baby who is exclusively breastfed on demand has very low chances of dehydration. Even formula fed babies receive the required amount of water with their food

5. Can we Give Water to a Breastfeeding Baby?

It isn’t suggested to give water to a breastfeeding baby. The baby’s fluid requirements are met by the breast milk itself.

6. Can Too Much Water For Babies Lead to Signs of Seizures?

Yes, too much water consumption will cause a condition called water intoxication in young babies. This is a very dangerous condition that can lead to dramatic seizures. It also has significant impact on the baby’s body, as the sodium levels will tend to fall with too much water input.

Conclusion: Water is an inevitable necessity for the survival of living organisms. As adults, we are advised to drink plenty of water every day, and meet the daily recommended requirement for optimal health but it isn’t the same with babies. Do make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations on giving water to your baby to ensure he stays healthy.

Read this article in Arabic: الوقت المناسب لتقديم الماء للأطفال