Be it formula or breastmilk – a baby’s first food is undoubtedly liquid. It’ll stay like that until they reach six months of life. Still, you have probably asked yourself more than once, “When can a baby drink water?”
The short version would be:
Infants 0 to 6 months old – No supplemental water
Infants 6 to 12 months old – Two to four ounces of water MAX.
The majority of nursing infants do not need supplemental water. When your little one starts eating solid food, you can begin introducing water as well, but only for practice and play. The case might be different for formula-fed infants as they might need a bit more h2O, but you shouldn’t give them more than four ounces.
For infants and toddlers 1 to 3 years old – A lot of pediatricians recommend thirty to forty ounces. However, that can prove to be too much for a toddler, especially if you are still nursing. It’s best to consult with your family doctor in this case and see what’s best for your child.
Formula-fed infants can be given a bit of water as it can alleviate constipation that may be caused by the introduction of solids. For nursing infants, a small amount of breastmilk before or after consumption of solids may offset constipation that occurs as a result of introducing solids and is preferable to h2O.
In the end, your pediatrician is the one who can offer you the best advice. Talk to them to see when’s the right time to give water to your child.
Can a Newborn Drink Water?
Healthy infants do not require extra liquids. Formula, breastmilk, or both keep them hydrated. However, it appears that there are some circumstances in which an infant might need to drink it. Still, smaller infants stay hydrated by other means, and water can prove to be harmful to them.
Breastmilk is actually 88.1% h2O, which is quite enough to keep your child hydrated. Your typical baby formula is a blend of one level scoop of powder for every two fluid oz of water. It’s sufficient for your baby’s hydration needs.
During the first week of an infant’s life, don’t use any kind of supplements as they can interfere with the typical frequency of breastfeeding. If your child receives supplementation in the form of glucose or plain water, during their first days of life, they are at risk of excess weight loss, potential water intoxication, increased bilirubin and might have to stay longer at the hospital.
Diluting the formula with extra H2O is not a good idea either. That way the formula will contain fewer calories per ounce and therefore not offer the adequate nourishment your infant needs.
Dangers of Giving Water to Newborns
Since infants do not need to drink it, what will happen if they do after those first couple of days? It might seem puzzling, but it is detrimental for a baby to have too much water. The consequences can be severe:
An excessive amount of H2O can be toxic to both formula-fed and nursing infants. It can come to this when there is a disbalance of electrolytes and sodium. The results of which may be seizures, irritability, unresponsiveness, and swelling.
Giving water to a baby as a replacement for formula or breast milk will fill their tummies with non-nutritious fluid and deprive them of the nutrition they actually need. An excessive amount of H2O may contribute to low weight gain and other health issues. When it comes to nursing infants, adding it to their diet can lead to a decreased milk supply of the mother.
It seems paradoxical, right? Nevertheless, it’s still a serious and dangerous possibility. The kidneys of a baby are not developed enough to process extra water. As a result, the kidneys may release the excessive H2O and sodium into their urine, which in turn can cause impaired brain function and dehydration.
When is IT OK to Give an Infant a Sippy Cup?
An infant typically begins learning to drink from a bottle in their sixth month of life, approximately. They ought to be able to do it entirely on their own by their first birthday.
An infant is ready to begin drinking water slowly when they acquire hand-eye coordination. There are a few ways you can help them:
Research finds that infants learn by imitation.
Support your child in an upright position with constant supervision
Your infant might cough and splutter in the beginning.
Get a cup with handles
Preferably one that has a straw or soft spout.
A sippy can prove to be a great training tool that will help your child transition from nursing to bottle. But that’s how far their usability goes – sippy cups are not for longterm use. According to the president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, they are designed to help infants move on from bottles to regular cups, but are used for other purposes too frequently.
Children that drink sweet beverages for a prolonged period of time are at a higher risk of tooth decay. A sippy cup ought to contain nothing but water unless it is mealtime. When the child turns one year old, they ought to drink from an open cup.
Begin slowly. An infant’s body requires time to learn how to process H2O – just like with anything new. Take small steps.
Start off with one water-filled cap at a time. Pay attention to how your child reacts. Don’t replace their meals with it.
If an infant drinks too much of it, they will not get enough calories from solids, breastmilk or formula. It can also be troublesome for your breastmilk supply before you even start the weaning process.
As a child makes the transition from an all-liquid diet to a diet that has solid foods, limit their H2O intake to two to four oz per day. Infants that are quite fond of breastmilk may require less water or not even be interested in it at all.
Other infants might benefit from approximately six to eight oz of it per day. This can happen if the child is constipated or if the weather is too hot and humid.
Once your child turns one year old, they may drink it more freely. However, their H2O intake will still depend on whether or not they are still nursing and how frequently.
When they turn one year old, it is perhaps a good idea to start offering water and milk with meals as it can quench their thirst. However, again, the best thing would be to consult with your pediatrician and ask them how much of it should your child drink each day.
Just as it is the case with the majority of baby-related questions, this one doesn’t have quite a straightforward answer. As you can see, the answer depends on a variety of factors, such as the primary source of your child’s nutrition as well as the weather. Nevertheless, doing your own research and getting informed is a sign of great parenting.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician. When it comes to parenting, there are no stupid questions. Your family doctor will solve any dilemma you might have, but make sure to provide them with all the necessary info.