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Dos and Don’ts of Introducing Water to Babies

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Sep 12, 2022

    Dos and Don’ts of Introducing Water to Babies

    Babies below six months of age should not be introduced to fluids, other than breastmilk. It is advised that they should be kept hydrated with breast milk or formula, even in hot weather. Once a baby completes six months, you can gradually introduce them to sips of fluids ONLY. Remember that besides the nutrients breast milk has, its main component is also water.

    Introducing water to babies is an important milestone. However, overdoing it might lead to stomach aches or make them too full to eat, leaving them with less room for breast milk, which is nutritious. When your baby is able to eat solids and drink whole milk after their first birthday, you can allow them to drink as much fluids as they want. Here, we will discuss some questions and doubts that new mothers usually have about introducing water to babies.

    Introducing Water to Babies Below 6 Months is a Big ‘No’

    Introducing water to babies below six months can lead to the following:

    • Interfere with their body’s ability to absorb the nutrients present in breast milk or formula.
    • It can also make their stomach feel full. This kills their appetite and does not provide them the nutrients that are essential for their holistic growth and development.

    Drinking too much fluids can also lead to a condition called water intoxication. This can result in seizures and even cause coma and death.

    Water intoxication occurs when large quantities of fluids – beyond the amount that a baby of this age can digest, dilutes the concentration of sodium in the body. It adversely affects their sodium to fluid ratio balance, disrupting the electrolyte balance and also leads to swelling of the tissues.

    When babies drink too much fluid, it knocks their sodium to fluid ratio out of balance, and they can die of water intoxication.  

    Can I Dilute the Formula with Water?

    Carefully follow the package guidelines for making formula and use only the amount suggested on it. Adding too much liquid to the formula not only causes risks of water intoxication, but also prevents the body from absorbing nutrients from it.

    What Should I Do if My Baby Becomes Dehydrated?

    Pediatricians don’t advise weaning babies off breast milk at 6 months of age. When the child is ready, they recommend introducing solids or complementary foods, which include water. Remember: we want to take advantage of the nutrients in breast milk for two years.

    However, make sure you don’t make your child drink a lot of healthy fluids. The amount should be restricted to a few sips and, that too, only when they are thirsty. Overdoing it may make them suffer from stomach flu or gastroenteritis. In such cases, the doctor might suggest giving them an electrolyte-filled drink or Oral Rehydration Solution to help overcome dehydration.

    Introducing carbonated, mineral or sugar water to babies

    Doctors recommend waiting until your baby turns at least two years of age to introduce them to mineral water, which you still need to boil. The minerals included in mineral water are usually sodium, calcium, and trace minerals. The exact components vary according to the processing method involved in the manufacture of each brand of mineral water. So, it’s hard to differentiate between the components present in each brand of mineral water. Some of these bottles may have  high sodium content and other minerals that a kid’s immature kidneys cannot handle. 

    Carbonated water, on the other hand, is a strict no for babies as they can cause excessive burping, and even pain and discomfort in the stomach

    Fluids containing sugar adversely affects the normal frequency of breastfeeding. Glucose in sugary fluids raises the risk of increased bilirubin, excessive weight loss, and water intoxication. Babies may also urinate more often, which can lead to dehydration. Some medical professionals administer sugary fluids in small quantities to babies as a means of relieving pain during painful medical procedures like vaccination. However, other researchers believe that sucrose does not play a role in pain relief. 

    When’s the Best Age to Introduce Them?

    After the kid’s second birthday, a little plain mineral water occasionally is not harmful because their kidneys are now mature enough to endure the mineral content of the fluid. But do not be convinced by advertisers who may claim that their brand of mineral water contains extra benefits for kids. It has no clear advantages over plain water. And again, its safety may not be guaranteed.

    Carbonated beverages are not healthy for kids, even after two years of age. Carbonation can cause pain and discomfort in the stomach across ages. Once children are comfortable drinking plain carbonated water, they may easily be attracted to its flavor. Carbonated water usually includes large quantities of sodium, sugar, artificial flavourings, and other harmful chemicals.

    Learn more about Baby Nutrition here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

    Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Sep 12, 2022

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