Can you feed water to a baby
When can babies drink water?When can babies drink water? | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
If your baby is under 6 months old, they only need to drink breastmilk or infant formula. From 6 months of age, you can give your baby small amounts of water, if needed, in addition to their breastmilk or formula feeds.
Why is water not suitable for babies younger than 6 months?
Before 6 months, breastmilk or formula is both food and drink for your baby. It is all they need, even in hot weather. Giving your baby water may mean they drink less breastmilk or formula. This can put them at risk of not getting enough milk or formula to grow properly. Giving your baby a lot of water or excessively diluted formula over a short time can also make them very unwell.
When can I give water to my baby?
If your baby is around 6 months old, you can offer small amounts of cooled boiled tap water but you should not replace their breastmilk or formula feeds. Breastmilk or formula should still be their main drink up to 12 months of age.
After 12 months, their main drink should be water and cow's milk or breastmilk. You can offer water or milk in a cup. There's no need to boil tap water once your baby has reached 12 months.
If your baby has just started on solids, start with a few sips of water from a cup when they are eating. This is so they can learn about drinking from a cup and it can also help prevent constipation due to the increased bulk of their poo. The aim is to get them used to drinking from a cup as this will be their main way of drinking from 12 months on.
What about in hot weather?
In hot weather, it is important to offer more frequent breastfeeds or bottle-feeds if your baby is under 6 months. Do not offer water unless recommended by a doctor.
Your baby may want to drink more than usual but for shorter periods. If you breastfeed, you should also make sure you drink enough water.
To make breastfeeding more comfortable for you and your baby in hot weather:
- place a towel, sheet or pillowcase between yourself and your baby
- lie down to breastfeed to reduce skin contact
Your baby is properly hydrated (getting enough fluids) if they have 6 to 8 pale wet nappies over 24 hours.
What if my baby has a fever?
If your baby has a fever, is under 6 months and is breastfed, you may need to offer extra breastfeeds. If they are under 6 months and formula-fed, you can offer smaller amounts of formula more frequently. Do not offer water unless advised by a doctor.
If your baby is older than 6 months, continue to breastfeed or bottle feed. You can offer water in between feeds. The most important thing to check is whether your child is getting enough fluids.
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal child health nurse for advice and support.
What about other drinks?
Fruit juice, soft drinks and cordial are not suitable for babies under 12 months old.
Caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and energy drinks — and, of course, alcohol — are not suitable for children of any age.
Sources:Australian Breastfeeding Association (Keeping baby cool in the heat), National Health and Medical Research Council (Infant Feeding Guidelines), NSW Health (Babies and children in hot weather), Raising Children Network (Fever), Raising Children Network (Healthy drinks for kids and teenagers), Royal Children's Hospital (Guide to foods for baby’s first year), World Health Organization (Why can’t we give water to a breastfeeding baby before 6 months, even when it is hot?)
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Last reviewed: July 2020
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When Is It Safe to Give Water to Infants?
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 27, 2021
In this Article
- How Infants Stay Hydrated
- When Babies Can Start Drinking Water
- Making Sure Water Is Baby-Safe
- Risks of Water for Infants
- Water as Your Baby Grows
If you have a baby, you’re probably concerned about making sure they have enough water and nutrients to stay healthy. Even though your baby drinks breast milk or formula, is that enough to keep them hydrated? Yes. Here’s what you need to know.
How Infants Stay Hydrated
As an adult, water is the most hydrating thing you can drink. It quenches your thirst and helps all of your systems stay balanced.
But children under a year old don’t need water like adults do. It can actually be dangerous for them. Babies get all their hydration from breast milk or formula.
When Babies Can Start Drinking Water
A baby should drink only breast milk or formula until they’re six months old. It has all the hydration and nutrition they need in the early months.
Even when you start giving them purees or table food at around 6 months of age, breast milk and formula are still more important than water. But you can begin to introduce it.
When babies are between 6 and 12 months of age, breast milk or formula continues to be a priority over water. But if you offer breast milk or formula first, you can then offer water, 2-3 ounces at a time. At this age, 4-8 ounces a day of water is enough. More than that may lead to water intoxication.
Making Sure Water Is Baby-Safe
Before using water to mix baby formula or offering a baby water for the first time, consider testing your tap water. While tap water may have fluoride that helps prevent tooth decay, it could also contain levels of lead that are unsafe for babies.
Most tap water in the U.S. is safe, with a few exceptions:
- If you have untested well water.
- If your water source has recently been contaminated.
- If your baby has low immunity.
If you’re worried about lead exposure and traces of chemicals in your water, install a filtration system or use distilled water instead which can be easily purchased.
Considerations for mixing formula with water. If you use tap water to mix formula, mix only one bottle at a time. Don’t use tap water to mix formula in bulk amounts.
A similar rule applies to water that you’ve boiled. Refrigerate boiled water within an hour, and throw it away if you don’t use it within 24 hours. Always allow the water to cool completely before mixing the formula. Hot water can burn your baby.
When you purchase formula, carefully follow the instructions on the container for mixing it with water. Instructions vary by brand. This will ensure your baby gets the right amount of nutrients and hydration.
Mixing in too much formula may lead to constipation or dehydration. Mixing in too little formula may lead to malnutrition or water intoxication.
Risks of Water for Infants
Drinking too much water at a young age is very dangerous. Water causes an imbalance in sodium levels that may lead to:
- Brain damage
Water intoxication leads to changes in behavior such as:
- Muscle cramps and twitching
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
Watch for signs of water intoxication and call your doctor immediately if you have any concerns.
Water as Your Baby Grows
Between the ages of 1 and 3, your toddler needs 4 cups of liquid per day. This is a transitional period that should include both water and breastmilk or formula. The older your child gets, the more water they need. There are several ways you can encourage your older child to drink enough water.
Flavor water with fresh fruit. Water is healthier than juice since many children’s juices are full of sugar. If your child prefers the taste of juice, use fresh fruit to flavor their water. Lemon, berries, mint, and cucumber are great additions.
Offer more fruits and vegetables. Encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables with high water content. These help them stay hydrated without forcing them to drink more water than they want. Hydrating vegetables include cucumber, tomato, zucchini, celery, and iceberg lettuce. Hydrating fruits include strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, cantaloupe, and grapefruit.
Make creative ice cubes and popsicles. Puree your fruit of choice with water and freeze it into ice cubes or popsicle molds.
Provide special drinkware. Use a fancy cup with favorite colors or characters. When you find ways to make water fun, your child is more likely to enjoy drinking it.
Should I give my child water from a bottle?
Many young mothers are interested in the question - is it necessary to give water to a newborn baby? In this case, the doctor gives a variety of advice - some argue that breastfed babies do not need additional water, others assure the opposite. To get an answer to this question, it is necessary to understand in more detail how and when the baby should be watered, and what water can be used for this.
Mother's breast milk, which the child receives from the first days of life, is both food and drink for him - it is known that on 90% it consists of water. Thus, the breastfed baby receives all the amount of fluid he needs. Thanks to special enzymes, mother's milk has a beneficial effect on the digestion process. In addition, the female body is able to independently adapt to the needs of the baby, regulating the composition of breast milk. When the baby needs more liquid, he begins to breastfeed more, thus receiving more foremilk (it is less saturated), which not only quenches thirst well, but also restores electrolyte balance.
If we take into account all of the above, we can decide that the baby does not need ordinary water as a drink at all. But in fact, sometimes it is necessary. However, giving water to a child who is not yet three months old is possible only on the recommendation of a pediatrician. Babies who are already 4 months old can drink water - this will not affect the breastfeeding process in any way. There are absolutely no contraindications to water if the baby drinks it with pleasure. On the contrary, you should be wary of a lack of fluids, which can cause much more harm to the child. We must not forget that newborns have a very fast metabolism, due to which the loss of moisture can be very significant.
Water for baby during breastfeeding
You can give your baby water from about 4-5 months. It is best to do this not during feeding, but between them. When the baby feels thirsty, he will gladly drink water from the bottle. As for the norm of fluid for a child, this is a very individual question. As a rule, pediatricians advise giving babies about 100 mg of liquid per 1 kg of body weight, while the liquid includes breast milk. Water in this case will be from 30 to 70 ml.
The baby can drink water from an ordinary bottle with a nipple, you can also use a spoon for this (it will help to accustom the child to complementary foods, which will be needed soon). However, the main rule to remember is that the baby must drink water voluntarily, in no case should he be forced to do so.
Mixed or formula-fed baby water
Artificial feeding has significant differences from natural feeding. The fact is that infant formula contains much more protein than mother's milk. A formula-fed baby has a special need for extra fluids. If you constantly give him a rich nutrient mixture, this can cause constipation. The additional water received by the baby will improve his well-being and contribute to the normal emptying of the intestines.
If the child is on mixed or artificial feeding, then you can start giving water to him a little earlier - already from 1 or 2 months of life. In this case, the water temperature should be cooler than the temperature of the nutrient mixture. Pediatricians assure that babies who are on artificial or mixed feeding definitely need water.
When can newborns be given water?
You can give your baby a drink immediately after eating. You can also drink it in between feedings. It is important to remember that babies have a very small stomach in volume, and they will not physically be able to drink a lot of water. It is enough to give him 2-3 teaspoons of water. Gradually, this dose can be slightly increased.
There are situations in which the need for additional liquid for the baby increases dramatically - for example, when the child has been in a room that is too dry for a long time, or has become slightly overheated. Some parents are too afraid of catching a cold while bathing, and maintain a high temperature in his room - because of this, the humidity in the room decreases, and the baby's body is dehydrated. To prevent this from happening, the air temperature in the baby's room should be maintained at 20 degrees, and the humidity should be between 50 and 70%.
If the air in the room is too dry, the child begins to breathe rapidly, swallowing becomes difficult and colic begins. With overheating, which most often occurs in summer, the baby sweats more, as a result of which the body loses moisture. Signs of dehydration can be signs such as dry skin and mucous membranes, as well as infrequent urination. Pediatricians agree that during illness, newborns need to be given water - for example, with colic, or at elevated temperature. The water in this case should be warm.
The child needs water in such cases:
- at a high temperature - you can give him a little drink from a spoon, and just moisten his lips with water;
- with diarrhea - you need to give the child a little drink, after which it is imperative to show it to the pediatrician;
- when there is fever without temperature - water can be given to the baby in a small amount;
- for constipation - the liquid will help to empty the intestines without discomfort for the child;
- when vomiting - water will prevent dehydration and cleanse the stomach;
- for hiccups - water will relieve spasm of the diaphragm, which happened from hypothermia, and also help to get rid of excess air in the stomach.
What kind of water should a baby drink?
Some parents are sure that only boiled water can be given to babies. Actually it is not. When water is boiled, not all bacteria die in it. And in the composition of such water there are chloride compounds that are extremely harmful to babies. Water obtained from open sources can be no less dangerous, as it contains bacteria from the soil and nitrates. In no case should children be given carbonated or mineral medicinal water with a complex chemical composition. Water purified by home filters is also not suitable for babies.
Where can you get water that will not harm the child? It is best to buy it in a pharmacy. Special water for babies is labeled on the bottle, it contains the optimal amount of minerals for the baby. Water from the pharmacy does not need to be boiled, but after opening it can be stored for no more than a day, and only in the refrigerator. It is best to immediately pour such water into a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
Which water purification methods can be used for a baby?
The most economical and easiest option to provide your baby with high-quality drinking water is to buy a special "children's" water filter. This can be a jug-type device - it is inexpensive, it is very easy to use such a filter, and the degree of water purification is very high - the device effectively removes chlorine, bacteria, pesticides and particles of mechanical impurities from ordinary tap water. For the manufacture of such filters, only high-quality safe plastic is used, which is approved by pediatricians. Water purified in this way can be used not only for feeding the baby, but also for preparing various decoctions and infant formulas.
Can I give my baby water during hiccups?
What is hiccups? This is an involuntary contraction of the muscles of the diaphragm and larynx. Babies are especially susceptible to hiccups, since their diaphragm muscles are characterized by increased excitability. Hypothermia, air entering the stomach, nervous overexcitation and accumulation of gases in the intestines often lead to hiccups.
As soon as a child has hiccups, you need to immediately eliminate its cause. If the baby is cold, it needs to be warmed up. In order for air to come out of the stomach, the baby should be held in a “column”. A few sips of warm water will also help to cope with hiccups.
It is necessary to give water to a child with hiccups, as this measure will quickly eliminate the cause of discomfort.
If you do everything right and give water to the baby only when he really needs it, then there will be no harm - on the contrary, the child will receive the necessary amount of fluid for the normal functioning of the body.
Information about higher organizations
Ministry of Health of the Russian FederationOfficial portal of the Mayor and the Government of MoscowDepartment of labor and social protection of the population of the city of Moscow: on Mondays from 15.00 to 18.00Department of health of MoscowDepartment of RosZdravNadzor for the city of Moscow and the Moscow region: Mon - Thu: 9:00 - 17:45, Fri: 9:00 - 16:30, Sat - Sun: days off Office of Rospotrebnadzor for the city of MoscowFKU Main Bureau of Medical and Social Expertise for the city of Moscow: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 8. 30 to 17.30 .Directorate for coordinating the activities of medical organizations DZMMosvolunter. Responsible person for cooperation with volunteer organizations: Adylov Seyran Midatovich, tel. +7 499-250-01-75
Information for the public
Assessment of the quality of servicesIndependent assessment of the quality of services provided by medical organizationsQuestionnaire for assessing the quality of services provided by medical organizations on an outpatient basisDrugsCrowdsourcing projects of the Government of MoscowAmbulance and Emergency Medical Service in the City of MoscowAssistance Center for Medical WorkersMoscow City Compulsory Medical Insurance FundInsurance companiesFederal budgetary healthcare institution " Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology in Moscow "Official resource of the Healthy Russia program." Order of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation dated August 10, 2017 N 514n "List of studies during preventive medical examinations of minors" List of drugs dispensed free of charge and with a 50% discount List of categories of citizens persons entitled to receive state social assistanceOn the list of documents required for issuing prescriptionsOn the list of pharmacy organizations for the disabled
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whether to supplement the baby with breastfeeding and artificial feeding
The birth of a baby always involves a lot of questions from parents. Some of them are, of course, related to proper nutrition. And almost always, the first thing moms ask is whether it is necessary to give water during breastfeeding. Will it harm digestion and stool? And if supplemented, then with what water, how often and from what? Let's take a look at all the nuances in order.
- When a baby needs water
- What are the dangers of drinking water early
- General advice on supplementation
When a baby needs water
he is breastfed, with normal assimilation of mother's milk and regular weight gain, water is not required. Mother's milk quenches thirst and protects against dehydration. However, there are doctors who express a different opinion from this. So, when should you supplement your newborn?
• With artificial and mixed feeding. Mixtures, even as close as possible in composition to mother's milk, are absorbed longer, and water helps their absorption. Therefore, the use of water in this case is mandatory.
• When breastfeeding with insufficient lactation. Unfortunately, it happens that the mother's milk is not enough for the baby. If the baby cries often, does not gain weight, supplement the baby with water and immediately contact the pediatrician about mixed feeding or a complete transition to the mixture.
• In hot weather. When it's hot, fluid leaves the body much faster, and feeding a child with milk all the time means forcing him to overeat. Water in this case is your salvation.
• For hiccups. As you know, water helps to cope with hiccups. This is true not only for an adult, but also for a baby.
• For vomiting and diarrhea. They wash fluid out of the child's body, which threatens with dehydration. If you experience these problems, give your baby as much water as possible.
• To bring down high temperatures. If the baby is sick, his temperature has jumped, then the first advice given by all doctors, without exception, is to drink as much as possible. Milk at a high temperature is contraindicated, only fermented milk products are allowed. Therefore, the best way out for mommy will be to give the child some water.
• When the child is older than two months. If a newborn can only get by with mother's milk, then the baby is a little older - no longer. The body grows, as do its needs. Many pediatricians from 2.5 months already recommend to supplement the baby not only with water, but also with dried fruit compotes.
IMPORTANT! Irina Vostrikova, a pediatrician at the MEDSI clinic, believes that babies do not need additional water, because breast milk is already 90% water. However, this may be necessary if the mother herself does not drink enough fluids. So, a nursing mother should drink at least 2 liters of ordinary non-carbonated water per day.
In hot weather, the baby can be offered water between feedings in a volume of 10-15 ml: if the baby refuses, then now he does not need additional liquid. The same recommendations are valid for artificial feeding. It is better to give water to the child with a spoon, and not from a bottle. Because when feeding from a bottle, the baby has a "sucking confusion", and he begins to take the breast incorrectly - because of this, the effectiveness of stimulating milk production is reduced, and the nipples are injured.
What dangers can be with early water intake
Many mothers are surprised when they hear about the ban on giving water to their babies. What problems in a newborn can cause frequent water intake?
• Malnutrition. If you give your baby water shortly before feeding, the liquid will take place in the baby's stomach, and he will eat less milk. As a result, the baby will remain hungry, his body will receive fewer nutrients, and the mother will not empty the mammary glands, which threatens to stagnate milk and reduce lactation.
• Violation of the intestinal microflora. The use of water leads to the appearance in the body of a newborn of the first bacteria, which are not always beneficial. This is a load on the intestines, the likelihood of developing dysbacteriosis.
• Load on the kidneys. The introduction of water into the diet makes the kidneys work more intensively, and the body of a newborn baby may not be ready for this.
IMPORTANT! Elena Shmakova, consultant on breastfeeding and baby care at the Lada Center, teacher of the WHO/UNICEF course "Counseling on Breastfeeding", adds that there is a risk to breastfeeding itself when supplementing. The fact is that milk is produced in response to sucking, and its amount directly depends on the frequency of breast stimulation. If you give your baby water to drink, he will suckle less often and less, which means that the stimulation of the mammary glands will decrease.
She is sure that the baby should be supplemented only when breastfeeding does not help with the dehydration of the baby due to malaise. Dehydration can be detected, for example, when the number of urination is less than 6 per day, while the urine is concentrated, dark, it is less than usual.
Read also: Is it possible to give children mineral water
General recommendations for supplementation
• Only purified water should be given. The best option would be to buy bottled water. Today in stores you can find bottles of water intended for children: it has gone through all possible purifications and is devoid of harmful bacteria. It is also possible to use well water at home, which has passed through special children's filters. Avoid using tap water, even filtered.
• Use only boiled water. By doing this, you significantly reduce the risk of crumbs of harmful bacteria entering the body (almost all of them die when boiled).
• If possible, use silverware. Today, at affordable prices, you can find children's spoons and cups made of silverware. This metal has amazing properties to destroy pathogens.