When can newborn babies start drinking water?
Although water may seem an essential part of our diet, it is not suited for infants that are below the age of six (6) months old, during this phase breast milk is enough for them to keep hydrated and get all the required nutrients for proper growth. Some babies have lactose intolerance, and in a few cases, the mothers may not be able to produce the milk in the required quantities, for such cases you can choose to feed your baby with infant formulas that are readily available in the market.
Be certain to consult a doctor before doing so, they will prescribe the right formula food based on the age of your child, the doctor will also guide you about the right amount, the preparation method, and the number of times they need to be fed daily, etc.
Giving them water will result in malnutrition as they will drink less breast milk or formula feed. The tummy of a baby below six months old is very small, with a capacity of around only 10mm at the time of birth, this is why they require feeding so many times each day. Their belly empties really fast, but if water is offered they will not get the other necessary nutrients.
In case your child is taking formula feeds, be certain to clean their feeding bottle thoroughly each time, and also boil the water before preparing the feed, it will kill all kinds of germs, bacteria, and viruses that may affect the health of your child. Always prepare the formula feed with the amount of water as instructed by the manufacturer or your doctor. All formula-feed products come with a proper instruction manual and other safety guidelines.
Adding too much water to the formula drink will have nearly the same effects as if they were given water to drink. The main concern is providing the child with enough nutrients for their growth, and this should always be kept in mind.
For how many months a child has to breast milk or drink formula feeds?
For proper growth, a newborn child has to rely on their mother’s milk or formula feeds for at least 12 months, some children continue with breastfeeds even after that, which is quite normal. But for the initial 12 months, these two sources should be the only part of your child’s diet. Giving small amounts of boiled water (once it has cooled down) after the age of six (6) months will not cause any major issues, but it is advisable to keep the amounts to a minimum.
What problems can arise if you make a child drink water before he/she has turned six months old?
The major part is malnutrition, mother’s milk already contains around 80% water so they do not need to drink it directly to stay hydrated, and the same is applicable to formula feeds that have been prepared in a proper manner.
Other issues with water are safety concerns, the water may contain elements that can harm your child, and for example, tap water contains fluorides that can prove good for your baby’s teeth growth, but it may also contain lead, which is harmful even for the adults. The sodium levels of the baby due to excessive water are also a very serious concern; it disturbs their balance of electrolytes, which can result in serious complications, both physical and mental.
When can a baby start drinking water?
Once a baby has reached the age of 12 months, it is fine to let them drink water along with other feeds. Now the baby’s immune system is also strong enough, if the water contains no known impurities they can even drink water without first boiling it. Now the baby can also take other liquid drinks like fruit juice and other soft drinks.
The water intake of a baby should increase over time as they start taking solid foods, this will help constipation by diluting their poo.
How to determine if the baby is properly hydrated?
If a child is urinating six to eight times every 24 hours it means they are getting enough water in their diet, and there is no need to worry about dehydration.
What is water intoxication and how dangerous it can be?
If you make your baby drink too much water during the first six months it can result in a serious problem of water intoxication. When this happens the sodium levels in the body of the baby get imbalanced and cause a lot of issues for the baby.
Some notable changes in the baby when he/she is water intoxicated will include drowsiness, vomiting, a state of confusion, uneasiness due to muscle cramps, a sudden drop in energy levels, breathing issues, nausea, etc. If you have been feeding the baby with water and the above symptoms start to appear, immediately consult a doctor.
Water intoxication is a very serious issue; it can cause brain damage and seizures in babies, in the worst cases this condition can even lead to coma and death of the baby.