When can I give my baby water?
Good habits start early, and you may find yourself wanting to get a head start on getting your baby to drink water. Maybe you’re concerned about your baby’s hydration, especially on sweltering summer days. You’ve probably heard so much conflicting advice from other parents that you’re not sure where or when to start. They say babies can have water when they’re newborns or that babies can have water when they’re more than a year old. When can babies have water? The truth is that babies don’t need water until after the first year, but if you’re aware of the risks and careful with the amount, babies can have water when they are around 6 months.
Why It’s Important To Wait
Just because babies can have water when they’re 6 months doesn’t mean it’s okay to start a little earlier. You might be thinking that a little bit of water can’t possibly hurt the baby. A cup of water may sound harmless, but if you’re not careful, it can be seriously detrimental to his health. Babies cannot have water when they’re just a few months old. A newborn’s system is not ready for water for a couple of important reasons.
When giving your baby water, it’s easy to give him too much too fast. Too much water can cause his kidneys to flush out electrolytes, leaving him without enough sodium in his system to stay properly hydrated.
Why are these electrolytes so important?
Among other important functions, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, and phosphate ensure that your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain work properly.
If your baby is suffering from water intoxication, you can expect low body temperature, irritability, drowsiness, and swelling. This list of symptoms makes it hard to detect if anything is wrong. You may not notice anything different from your baby’s natural behavior unless you’re regularly taking his temperature. In severe cases, water intoxication can lead to seizures.
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Babies have such small stomachs, and water takes up valuable real estate. If your baby is full of water, he might not be willing to have milk or formula. This can leave your baby malnourished and cause him to lose weight. Hitting the right amount of calories and nutrients should be the priority when it comes to the drinks you are giving your baby.
Your Milk Supply
If your baby isn’t drinking as much breast milk because he’s full, your supply is likely to run low. Then, after you’ve stopped giving him water and need to get your baby breastfeeding again, it can be hard to produce enough milk. It can be a difficult process to ramp up production again, and your baby will go hungry until you can do so.
When Can Babies Have Water?
Now you know why it’s important to wait. When can babies have water, then?
Most experts agree that babies can have water when around 6 months. This is approximately the same time you can offer solid foods to your baby. Don’t let this change your breastfeeding or formula plans, as this is simply an introduction. A few sips at a time will more than do the trick.
9 To 12 Months
Babies can have water when between 9 to 12 months in larger amounts. Now, he can have a few ounces of water a day. Don’t let him have as much water as he wants yet. Space out the times when you offer him water and measure it out to make sure he isn’t having too much.
For regular drinking, babies can have water when they reach 1 year and are eating solids. At this time, they can drink water freely between meals. You should still offer your baby whole milk during mealtime, however.
How Much Should You Start With?
Again, babies have small stomachs, so you’ll want to be very careful with how much water you give them. It’s better to give them too little than to give them too much.
Try A Drop
You might want to use a dropper or syringe to place a little water in your baby’s mouth to introduce her to the taste.
Begin with a sip or two and monitor any physical or behavioral changes in your baby. If you’re confident that everything is fine, give her a little bit more the next time you offer water. Be overly cautious. At this point, it’s merely about getting the baby used to the taste.
The Right Range
Since babies can have water when 9 to 12 months more regularly, you might be curious about how to give them the right amount. You can use whatever method works, but your baby may find it easiest to use a bottle to start. Keep a few familiar cups and bottles around and offer it to her periodically throughout the day. Don’t go for a refill of she finishes it all early. She doesn’t need the water, so milk or formula is enough liquid.
Don’t Wing It
Adults consume so much water per day that it’s easy to underestimate how much water you’re giving your baby. So when your baby can have water, make sure you’re carefully measuring out how much water you’re providing.
Things To Keep In Mind
When wondering when can babies have water, here are several tips to remember before you start.
Talk to your pediatrician first
Just because babies can have water when they’re six months on average doesn’t mean your baby can chug away on the very day he turns six months old. Make sure you’re discussing any major changes with your pediatrician well before you plan to implement them. They may tell you it’s okay to give him water a little bit earlier or tell you to wait past six months.
No water even if it’s hot
You may have the urge to give your baby water before six months if it’s an especially hot day. DON’T. Milk or formula provides plenty of fluid to keep baby hydrated. Shift your focus to finding ways to cool the baby down instead, such as removing a layer of clothes or leaving the house to go to a cooler place.
Give them time
Don’t force it. Your baby may not like the water the first time you introduce it, but give him a chance to come around. Play the long game and try to casually introduce it several times in the future.
Dealing with constipation
Constipation is a problem to discuss with your pediatrician. The doctor may suggest giving your baby a small amount of water per day to help their bowel movements. Don’t do this without discussing it first.
If your baby is sick
You might think babies can have water when sick and suffering from diarrhea or experiencing vomiting. Again, ask your pediatrician first before you do anything. Further depleting your little one’s system of electrolytes while he’s sick can make matters much worse. Your pediatrician might prescribe medicine or suggest something like Pedialyte instead.
Stay away from juice. Babies can have water when around 6 months and the same goes for juice. They don’t need the extra fluids, and the extra sugar can cause stomach cramping and diarrhea. It isn’t worth the risk, can damage teeth, and offers nothing nutritionally.
Ready To Hydrate?
The most important thing to remember is that even though babies can have water when they reach 6 months, they don’t need it for the first year. As long as your baby is getting enough milk and formula, water isn’t something important to give them. If you want to get your baby used to the taste and in the habit of drinking water, start slowly around six months and work up to a few ounces a day between 9 and 12 months. Don’t forget to talk with your pediatrician before making any changes and carefully measure out exact amounts for your baby. Drinking water is a great habit of starting early but doing it right ensures your baby’s health and safety.