If there’s one thing that all of us need to be reminded of, it’s to drink water. Water is what keeps us hydrated and helps us function throughout the day, and we wouldn’t survive a week without it. But although it may be the source of life for adults, this does not apply to babies. After all, their bodies are different from that of an adult as they are still growing and developing. In fact, many people claim that it is best to not give your baby so much as a drop of water within their first 6 months of life. Usually, breastmilk or formula is enough to prevent them from getting thirsty and is their main source of nutrition.
However, there are some exceptions to the rule. And things can get confusing as your baby continues to grow and develop. They may see you drinking water and grasp it in order to have a sip. They may start to eat solids around the ninth month and need water to wash it down. With all the transitions happening in the first year, the guidelines on feeding babies can alter often. So, if you’re wondering when you can give your little one water, this is the article for you. Read on to know more!
At What Age Can Babies Have Water?
It’s normal for your baby to appear like they are hungry all the time when they are very little, especially if they are cluster feeding. And because they don’t have the means to communicate with you, it’s easy for you to wonder if they are thirsty and need water. However, experts say you should not give any water to your child before they turn 6 months old. The best way to think about it is that your baby will be able to digest water the same time they start to eat solid foods. And this is usually around the 6 month mark. But instead of giving them a sippy cup full of water, make sure to introduce water gradually. Start with a few sips between meals and then slowly increase the quantity. Keep in mind that unlike adults, water is not a necessity for infants. They meet their fluid needs through milk even if they start eating solid foods early and that’s okay. In fact, it’s healthier for them. So, if your six month old only has a sip of water, it’s because their intake of breastmilk and formula is more than enough to stave off thirst.
Why Can’t Babies Under 6 Months Drink Water?
Giving water to infants under the age of 6 months can lead to some risks and complications. The biggest concern is that if a baby’s tiny tummy fills up on water, this will impede their ability to take in adequate nutrients that are found only in breastmilk or formula. Consuming less breastmilk or formula at this stage puts them in danger as they need those nutrients in order to grow and develop well. They need to be able to access all the vital vitamins their body craves. And this can only happen if you keep up their feeds. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidelines for feeding your child, and they specify that at 6 months, babies may eat up to eight ounces of formula and/or breast milk every four to five hours (1). Even after they surpass the age of 6 months old, giving more than a few ounces of water to the baby can lead to the development of seizures due to low blood levels of sodium (2). And while this is not a common occurrence, it is important for parents to know the risk along with the signs of seizures in infants just in case. This can include rolling eyes, stiffening of limbs, blinking, and spasms. So, your safest bet is to not give your baby any water before 6 months old and keep a close eye on how much water they consume if they are below 12 months old.
Are There Any Exceptions To This Rule?
Parents often wonder if there are any exceptions to the water rule when it comes to their tiny precious infants. What if the baby has a fever? Or if they are constipated? You might think this is a good enough excuse to break the no water rule, but it’s better to ensure that your baby simply consumes more breastmilk or formula in these cases. In case of constipation, you can give them a small amount of prune juice, apple juice or grape juice instead of simply giving them water. However, make sure to consult your pediatrician beforehand.
Giving your baby some water no matter how thirsty they may look is a bad move. But as they grow and develop you can start giving them a sip here and there. Once they’ve completed 12 months and have fully made the switch to solid foods, you can hand them a sippy cup full of water without any hesitation!