I am sure you may be wondering why are babies not drinking water and when babies can drink water in addition to breast milk or formula?
Little ones generally don’t need water for the first few months — and even when you do add H2O to the mix, your baby will just need a few sips.
Here’s what every parent needs to know about when babies can start drinking water.
Can babies really drink water?
Babies should only begin drinking sips of water once they start eating solid foods. Before then, babies get the hydration they need from formula and/or breast milk.
When can babies drink water?
Therefore, when can you give water to your baby? Most experts suggest that you wait until you’ve started solids when your little one is around 6 months old. You can start solids between 4 and 6 months old, but experts recommend waiting until your baby is closer to 6 months in most cases.
When your baby starts drinking water, offer a little at a time from a sippy cup if she’ll take it. Babies usually can’t get too much water from a cup (only a bottle) — plus its good practice for when all of baby’s drinks will come from a cup.
If your little one will only drink water from a bottle, for the time being, that’s okay as long as you monitor (and limit) how much she’s getting.
How much water can my baby drink?
From about 6 months on, babies need 4 to 6 ounces of water a day, or just over half a cup of water. But ask your pediatrician how much your little one needs before your baby starts drinking water.
Why can’t very young babies drink water?
Infants get all the water they need from breast milk or formula, which will keep them well-hydrated. There are also risks associated with giving baby water before she’s old enough, including:
The risks of giving your baby water too soon
Very little babies can’t drink water because of the following risks:
Chemical imbalances. Letting your baby drink large amounts of water can lead to water intoxication, a potentially dangerous condition where electrolytes (like sodium) in a baby’s bloodstream become diluted. This can impact a baby’s normal body functions, resulting in symptoms like low body temperature or seizures.
Insufficient weight gain. If your baby regularly drinks water in addition to breast milk or formula, she isn’t filling up on food. Over time, that means your baby won’t have the calories she needs to gain the appropriate amount of weight.
A lack of nutrients. Babies who satisfy their appetite and their need to suck with bottles of water miss out on important nutrients they get from breast milk and formula feedings.
Decreased milk supply. If you’re breastfeeding, giving your baby water can ultimately decrease your milk supply, since babies who fill up on water will feed less at the breast.
The benefits of giving your baby water
Water benefits older babies 6 months and up by helping them stay hydrated, which:
Transports nutrients and oxygen to cells while helping remove waste
Keeps joints and tissues lubricated
Maintains blood volume
Eliminates the need for fruit juice (which pediatricians suggest avoiding before the age of 1 anyway — and then only offering it in very limited quantities, if at all)
Is it possible for babies to drink water when it’s hot outside?
Many doctors recommend that babies drink small sips of water when it’s very hot outside to reduce the risk of dehydration, but be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician first.
Signs of dehydration in babies
If you’re concerned that your child isn’t getting enough fluids because she’s sick or it’s extremely hot outside, watch out for these signs of dehydration in babies:
Fewer than six wet diapers in 24 hours
Dark yellow urine
Tearless crying (crying with few or no tears)
Dry skin that doesn’t bounce back when gently pressed
Sunken fontanel (the “soft spot” on the top of her head)
Cold hands and feet
When to call the doctor
When you notice that your baby is sick with diarrhea and/or is vomiting, call your child’s doctor for tips to ensure your little one stays hydrated. Also, call the pediatrician if your child shows any signs of dehydration.
One last tip: Try and avoid fruit juice until your baby’s at least 1 year old, if at all. Not only does juice fill up your infant’s tiny tummy, leaving less room for milk and food, but the sugar in juice can cause stomach cramping and diarrhea in young babies.
However, friends and relatives might say it’s necessary to offer babies water in the first months of life, it’s best and advisable to hold off until your little one starts solids to avoid potential health problems. You’ll often be given the clear stuff before you know it!