Three Facts You Need to Know about Babies and Water

Three Facts You Need to Know about Babies and Water

Three Facts You Need to Know about Babies and Water

Water is essential to maintain health for children and adults alike, and it should be the beverage of choice for all of us, with one notable exception. For infants, water is not necessary and may even be harmful to your little one. Before you give your baby water, review these three facts that every parent should know about babies and water.

1. Babies exclusively on breast milk or formula usually don’t need to drink water Before a baby starts solid food, he receives plenty of water from mother’s milk or formula. These rich liquids more than suffice to replace the water babies will lose with their normal bodily functions. If the weather is hot, usually a little extra milk will make up for the extra loss of fluids, but you can also supplement with a small bottle (2 to 4 ounces) of water between feedings.

2. Too much water can cause water intoxication    Baby’s urine contains water as well as sodium and other electrolytes, and the milk or formula he drinks contains just the right amount to keep the baby’s system balanced. If an infant consumes too much water, he may lose too muchWater is essential to maintain health for children and adults alike, and it should be the beverage of choice for all of us, with one notable exception. For infants, water is not necessary and may even be harmful to your little one. Before you give your baby water, review these three facts that every parent should know about babies and water.

  • Babies exclusively on breast milk or formula usually don’t need to drink water Before a baby starts solid food, he receives plenty of water from mother’s milk or formula. These rich liquids more than suffice to replace the water babies will lose with their normal bodily functions. If the weather is hot, usually a little extra milk will make up for the extra loss of fluids, but you can also supplement with a small bottle (2 to 4 ounces) of water between feedings.
  • Too much water can cause water intoxication     Baby’s urine contains water as well as sodium and other electrolytes, and the milk or formula he drinks contains just the right amount to keep the baby’s system balanced. If an infant consumes too much water, he may lose too much sodium, which may cause irritability, brain swelling, unresponsiveness and seizures.
    If a child has diarrhea, it may seem logical to give water to replace lost fluid, but the risk of water intoxication is actually higher because the baby is losing both water and electrolytes. Use breast milk, formula or perhaps a rehydration solution.

3. Any water your very young baby drinks should be sterile If your tap water comes from a U.S. public water system, it is required to meet Environmental Protection Agency safety standards and is usually free from infection-causing organisms. But contamination can happen, and an infant with a compromised immune system can become ill from untreated water.

The very best way to kill all potentially harmful organisms is to boil water for one minute (boiling more is not better). The risk of any infection is very, very small, but the American Academy of Pediatrics and I both recommend you use sterile water for young babies – even in their formula.
Some simple home water filters can remove the most common organisms that cause infections, as well as a number of other contaminants.

If a baby has started solid foods but is still thirsty between feedings of breast milk or formula, it can be a great idea to start adding 2 to 4 ounces of water in between. Ideally, at the first birthday babies will be drinking about 16 ounces a day of breast milk or other milk, give or take 4 ounces or so – and water is the very best beverage to make up the rest of what he drinks. By starting early, you can integrate water into his life and help to make drinking it a lifetime habit.

Dr. Alan Greene

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Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

 

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