Can My Baby Have Water?
Staying hydrated is important for everyone, especially during the summer. So, you may be wondering if it’s okay to give your baby water. While hydration is important, infants under the age of six months old do not need water. They should be receiving hydration and nutrition from breast milk or formula alone.
It can be helpful to understand why water should be avoided for infants. This is because babies have small stomachs, at birth a baby’s stomach only holds 1 to 2 teaspoons. If you are giving your infant water, you’re filling their small stomachs with a liquid that lacks the vitamins, minerals, fat and calories that they need. This can lead to your child not gaining weight properly or developing, according to their growth scale.
Furthermore, too much water can lead to water intoxication. Water can be toxic to anyone when consumed in large quantities, because when the kidneys are given more water than they can process, the extra water ends up in the bloodstream. The water then dilutes the fluid in your baby’s bloodstream and lowers the concentration of electrolytes and sodium. This is called hyponatremia. A baby’s kidneys can’t handle as much water as an adult can, so even a moderate amount of water can lead to hyponatremia.
All things considered, most parents aren’t offering their infants entire bottles of water, but it’s easier than you may think to give a baby too much water. Diluting formula or breast milk with additional water can also deprive your child of nutrients and give their kidneys more water than they are able to process. Dilution can occur when using an automatic formula dispenser that isn’t properly calibrated or when zoning out while preparing a bottle for a midnight feeding.
When is it OK for a baby to have water?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, after a child is six months old, it’s OK to introduce small amounts of water as they are learning to drink from a cup. Somewhere between a teaspoon to a tablespoon of water would be considered a small amount of water, but your child’s main source of hydration should still be breast milk or formula. At one years old, your baby can have larger quantities of water along with cow’s milk.
If you have any questions about your child’s level of hydration or diet, you should speak to your pediatrician.