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Do Babies Need to Drink Water?

Updated on April 29, 2009

The subject of babies drinking water, and what type of water, continues to be a confusing subject for parents. Most doctors agree, though, that giving babies water before six months of age is unnecessary. For strictly breastfed babies, there is no need for any water supplementation, and for bottle-fed babies, formula is comprised of over 80% water. If water is given at all, it should be only in 2 to 3 ounces. This is to prevent baby from filling up on water, or taking it in lieu of breast milk or formula, which will deprive baby of nutrients.

Too Much Water is Bad for Baby

There are incidences of water intoxication in infants. If babies under one year are given excessive water, it can lead to seizures. Also something that many parents might not realize is that swimming lessons for infants can cause too much water ingestion and also lead to seizures, so it’s recommended that swimming lessons are postponed until after one year.

If it is excessively hot weather, parents may feel inclined to supplement with water, but doctors advice that breastfeeding mothers simply increase their water intake, and mothers of formula-fed infants stick to the 3 or 3 ounces, if at all.

If You Give Baby Water

As for the type of water to give baby, that is a subject still up for debate. Distilled, tap, spring, boiled? Many doctors say that after 6 months, boiling tap water isn’t necessary, and may even contribute to later issues like asthma and eczema due to the concept of “over-sterilization.” There is the belief that tap water is actually tested more often for safety than bottled, and that buying bottled water is only a waste of money. If you’re nervous about your city’s tap water, try using a good sink filter, or have it tested.

Distilled water like Nursery Water is still a popular type to mix with formula, but bottled or spring water are not highly recommended because of mineral content.

Water is Better Than Juice

When you do switch from bottle to sippy cup, as many parents do at about a year, this is the time to introduce water as the primary drink over juice. This begins healthy habits and doesn’t familiarize your child to the taste of sugar. Doctors usually recommend no more than 4 ounces of juice per day. At this age, when baby is eating solid foods, over-consumption of water is not a huge concern and baby should just drink to satisfy thirst, mostly with water and milk.

To give water or not? Ask your doctor and your mother, and when in doubt – just give the kid an empty plastic bottle to platy with!

Credit Image: futurestreet, Flickr

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  • rumanasaiyed profile image

    Rumana 

    3 years ago from Sharjah, UAE

    Very informative hub. I was unaware of such consequenses of too much water consumption.

  • shaddox21 profile image

    shaddox21 

    7 years ago

    I had no idea that too much water could cause seizures. That is very scary. I was told not to give my girls water at all but i did anyway. I only gave them a small amount at least once a day because when they are that small, i felt they needed something besides formula all day. thank you for the useful info

  • profile image

    Concerned 

    7 years ago

    All life should consume water....plants, bugs and insects, humans, etc. Doctors giving out info to new and young parents s/be ashamed for telling people not to give an infant water. The milk that infants consume is worst than feeding babies water. Milk normally causes gas in infants and also in older people to include adults! I gave my kids water when they were infants and they were not dehydrated. I think drs tell young parents this so that more money is spent on the drink Pedialyte.

  • profile image

    Lina 

    7 years ago

    Big big thanks for help

  • Ben Zoltak profile image

    Ben Zoltak 

    7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

    Good info to know. I see your point about the amount of water in formula....

    Ben

  • profile image

    8 years ago

    Duri Naimji, I think you mean water is pH neutral, which is a pH of 7. Things with a pH level of 0 are acidic - eg battery acid has a pH level of 1.

    You may call some experts' advice nonsense, but how I see it is that if we as mothers do our research and get our facts straight and from a number of reputable sources, then balance this with intuition, weigh up what advice you think is valid and will not cause harm to baby, I think that's not a bad way to go about it.

  • profile image

    Duri Naimji 

    8 years ago

    There is a big difference between drinking no water and too much water. Not all water is clean or unclean. That is why tap water is boiled. Bottled water if sterilized, or

    filtered may lack essential trace minerals. While milk and juices contain water, the water there is not neutral as plain water. Plain water is ph0. That is a big factor. Water is not just to quench thirst, it washes/rinses the infant's tongue and gums. If a child is fed at 3 hour intervals, water can hardly ruin its appetite. If a child is given one or two spoonfuls of water after feeding, which it may not swallow, how can that effect appetite. Sometimes so-called experts go beyond what they really know and talk and write and prescribe nonsense.Occasional spoonfuls of sterilised water around five months and after, after feeding must have benefitted millions before these widespread questionable claims. Safe room temperature water at suitable times in right amount is vital for any living person.

  • profile image

    A Mom 

    8 years ago

    I wish you had even mentioned about fluoride. :-(

  • profile image

    Mark Moller 

    8 years ago

    I wonder if that is applicable to babies raised in hotter, desert climates where it is easier to get dehydrated.

  • Chin chin profile image

    Chin chin 

    8 years ago from Philippines

    I am aware that babies don't really need to drink water. I usually just give a little after eating solid food. However, won't there be any effect to the child's water intake when he is grown up? Thanks for this hub.

  • profile image

    EdenvaleShoppes 

    9 years ago

    Nice information in your article.

    Thanks!!

  • autumn102030 profile image

    autumn102030 

    9 years ago from hurst, tx

    dr stated same thing...water is not needed when they are under 1 yo...after they turn one that they could have up to 4 ounces of juice a day, and after 2yo eight ounces of juice a day. My daughter LOVES juice, but i water it down to about 80% water and 20% juice and she doesn't know the difference.

  • brad4l profile image

    brad4l 

    9 years ago from USA

    I am not too familiar about the effects of water on very young children and infants, however I predominantly drink water and prefer it over the majority of other drinks, especially sodas.

    I suppose this makes me rather biased, but I feel that water is a very important drink for children. I think many are too reliant upon soft drinks, which are loaded with caffeine and sugars.

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