Whether you are trying to cope with the heat of warm weather, or stretch an already tight budget, you might be tempted to add extra water to your young infant’s diet. You might even assume that it’s healthy to give babies water, since so many experts advise adults to drink plenty of water each day in order to stay hydrated.
What Can Happen if I Give My Baby Water Before They are Ready?
Giving your baby water before they are old enough to safely consume it can be harmful to your child’s health. Most babies get enough liquids in their daily diet simply by breastfeeding or drinking a nutritious infant formula.
It’s especially important that you exactly follow the directions for mixing your baby’s infant formula if they do not breastfeed. Adding too much water to your baby’s formula can have dire consequences.
Poor nutrition, and dangerous conditions such as failure to thrive, and water intoxication, can all result if your infant begins drinking water before 6 months of age.
If you are concerned that your baby might be dehydrated due to an illness affecting their digestive tract, such as one that produces nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, be certain to seek the advice of your baby’s doctor. More than likely they will recommend that you offer your infant a special solution to help restore your baby’s electrolyte balance.
When is it Okay to Give My Baby Water?
Once your child is over 6 months of age, it is okay to give them small amounts of water occasionally. Just because it is generally safe to give babies of this age sips of water, it is still unsafe to dilute their formula or breast milk with it. Continue to follow the directions to mix your baby’s formula exactly as they are listed on the packaging.
Be certain to keep an alert watch on how much water your baby drinks each day. Drinking water fills their stomach and curbs their appetite. This can make it more difficult for them to receive all of the nutrients that they need each day to support their rapid growth and development.
Water intoxication also remains a concern, even after 6 months of age. In this condition, drinking too much water causes your baby’s body to develop an imbalance in their electrolytes. As their sodium levels drop, low blood pressure, poor circulation, seizures and even coma or death can quickly develop.
Once your baby is eating solid foods, at around one year of age, it is usually safe to let your child drink as much water as they want.