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When Can Babies Drink Water? Read to Find Out

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

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Oct 18, 2021

When Can Babies Drink Water? Read to Find Out

Drinking water is essential for our survival and well-being. However, for infants and babies under six months old, drinking water is not advisable for their overall health. Breast milk is the only source of nourishment for the baby as it includes all the nutrients that the baby needs. When can babies drink water?

You need to gradually wean your child off breast milk after they turn 2 years old. They need to get used to to drinking water and solid food – initially in the mashed form and gradually in their normal cooked consistency.

Now, the question is – when can babies drink water? Read on to find out the proper time.

Water Intoxication and Gastroenteritis

Before answering the question “When can babies drink water?’ you should know that an infant’s body can absorb nutrients from breast milk and formula. It is all that an infant needs for nutrition, including water. 

Drinking water may also make an infant feel bloated and lose their hunger for drinking breastmilk. In some rare and serious cases, drinking too much water could make your child develop water intoxication.

This condition is caused by the dilution of water, leading to the congestion of sodium in the baby’s body and fluctuating electrolyte balance in the tissue. Water intoxication can easily cause swelling in healthy tissue and lead to seizures. In more severe cases, your kid may fall into a coma.

In case your baby suffers from stomach flu or gastroenteritis, your doctor might recommend medications and Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) to prevent dehydration.

Rice Water or “Am’ for Baby: Benefits and Risks

Water and the Digestive System

Besides water intoxication, drinking water may also put infants at the risk of malnutrition and diarrhea.

As mentioned earlier, the digestive system of a baby is very sensitive and unclean water can cause inflammation in their weak stomach. When a new mother stops nursing the newborn early, they will eventually suffer from malnutrition. 

Giving water instead of breast milk will also make the mother produce less milk. Babies who are being bottle fed might feel thirsty when the temperature soars. In such cases, make sure that the drinking water is clean and preferably lukewarm.

when can babies drink water

Pre-packed Baby Food

When introducing pre-packaged baby food, be careful to read the labels. Consult your child’s pediatrician regarding the ingredients and formulations to make sure to prevent allergic reactions.

Follow the instructions on the baby food packaging and restrict your water usage to the amount as directed. This is the amount of water that is required by your baby’s body and the amount that they can digest. Make sure that you do not use more water than directed as it may lead to water intoxication. 

When Can Babies Drink Water? Water and Breast Milk

If you’re wondering “When can babies drink water?’, you don’t have to worry. Breast milk comprises of 80 per cent fluid, especially first-served milk for each feeding time, and is a better substitute for drinking water.

Breast milk not only satisfies the baby’s thirst, but it also improves your child’s immune system. Drinking breast milk also protects your baby from infections and aids growth and development. 

Generally, parents should wait for their kids to complete at least six months to initiate them in drinking water. Give your child sips of water when they are thirsty. Until then, your baby could get hydrated from breastfeeding and formula. 

Key Takeaways

When can babies drink water? As with any changes to your baby’s diet or routine, gradual transition is key. What’s more, it’s important to consult your child’s pediatrician before making any changes that may impact their overall nutrition. Though water after 6 months of age can help them stay nourished, breast milk and healthy, mashed solid foods are vital to helping your little one grow healthy and happy.

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 Oct 18, 2021

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