The simple answer to this common question raised, especially by newly-parents would be “NO”. It is unsafe for newborns to drink water.
Unless directed by your pediatrician, giving water to a newborn baby is neither necessary nor safe.
Giving newborn babies too much water can interfere with his body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in breast milk or formula. Not only that, the feeling of fullness may curb your baby’s desire to feed.
“Healthy babies do not need extra water. Breast milk, formula, or both provide all the fluids they need. “
In general, you shouldn’t give your baby water until he’s about 6 months old. Until then, they will get all the nutrients and hydration they need from breast milk or formula, even during hot weather.
Newborns 0-6 months: No supplemental water needed for exclusively breastfed babies. Breastmilk is 88% water and is sufficient to keep your baby well-hydrated
Babies 6-12 months: 60-120ml of water MAXIMUM. Once you introduce solids you can give few sips of water to offset constipation, but don’t overdo it as you might give him a tummy ache. Formula-fed babies may require a little bit more water, but no more than 120ml.
You may be surprised that giving babies too much water is actually detrimental and can cause serious health issues. There are side effects to making your baby drink water when they are not at the appropriate age. Here are a few downsides to this action:
Dehydration: We know this sounds really counterintuitive. But a newborn’s system is not fully developed, which includes his kidney. This can cause them to release excess sodium and water into the urine, which ultimately leads to dehydration.
Malnutrition: When babies are given water, their bellies will be filled up with non-nutritious fluid, thus they won’t be receiving enough nourishment from the nutrients they should be getting from breastmilk or formula milk. This will, in turn, contribute to low weight gain or failure to thrive.
“In breastfeeding babies, supplementing with water can also decrease a mother’s milk supply.”
Water intoxication: This happens when there’s an imbalance of sodium and electrolytes in the infant’s body from the excess water. It can cause irritability, brain swelling, unresponsiveness, and even seizures.
Take it slowly.
As with anything new, your baby will need time to learn how to process water. Start off with a cap-full of water - at a time. And see how your baby reacts to it.
But remember: Using water as a meal replacement is never a good idea.
Too much water will not only deprive your baby of getting enough calories (from breast milk, formula, and/or solid food), it can also wreak havoc on your milk supply before it’s time for weaning.
Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician, Children’s Medical Group recommended that parents should limit water to about 60 to 120ml per day as babies make the transition from an all-liquid diet to one involving solids.
“Breastfeeding babies may need less or show no interest in drinking water and that’s normal.”
In the case of constipation or extremely hot and humid weather, some babies may benefit from no more than 200ml water per day.
After 12 months of age, he/she can drink more freely depending on whether or not (and how frequently) mama is breastfeeding.
In the end, talk to your pediatrician about when is the best time to give water to your baby and how much water your child should be drinking each day.
Download our Doc2Us app from Google Play Store or Apple Store and chat with a doctor now.
Howland, G. (2019). When Can Babies Drink Water? The Answer May Surprise You!. [online] Mama Natural. Available at: https://www.mamanatural.com/when-can-babies-drink-water/.
Daniels, S. (2019). When can babies drink water? | BabyCenter. [online] BabyCenter. Available at: https://www.babycenter.com/404_when-can-babies-drink-water_1368488.bc.
Johnson, A. (2019). Is It Safe For Newborns To Drink Water - Experts Explain The Risks. [online] MADE OF Blog. Available at: https://madeof.com/blog/is-it-safe-for-newborns-to-drink-water.
Guidelines for offering water to babies • KellyMom.com. (2019). [online] KellyMom.com. Available at: https://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/baby-water/.
Introducing Doc2Us, your personal pocket doctor at your fingertips. With its name synonymous to “talk to us”, Doc2Us is a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere.