Should Your Baby Drink Water?

Now that you have mastered the art of soothing a colicky baby in a wrap and cooking at the same time, you might feel invincible but there are places where doubt is bound to creep in and jeopardize your settled life. Unsolicited advice is a part and parcel of new parenthood and dealing with them can be especially difficult if it comes from well-meaning relatives and friends. If you haven’t introduced water to your baby yet, your visiting Mother-in-law might just be shocked because she had always fed her babies with water irrespective of their age. In order to avoid giving into the temptation of offering water to your baby, do remember the following points before trying any such thing:

Breast Milk Or Formula Milk Is Enough For Your Baby

Breast milk or formula milk can keep your baby hydrated in the hottest of summers and there is no need to offer water, especially if the baby is less than 6 months old or even less than a year old. Exclusively breastfed babies do not need additional water because breast milk contains 88% water and is enough to take care of the fluid needs of your baby. In the initial days when your supply is yet to be established, colostrum is more than enough to keep your newborn hydrated.

As long as you nurse your baby on demand, there is no need for additional water even if it is scorching hot outside. Exclusive breastfeeding provides the best form of nutrition along with all fluids that your baby needs as a newborn.

Formula fed babies also do not require additional water but you might need to keep a check on whether your baby is being fed adequately because with formula milk, there is always the chance of under feeding and over feeding a baby.

Why Water Is Best Avoided?

Offering water might interfere with the normal routine of breastfeeding and also hinder proper absorption of nutrition by the baby. Whether the water is offered as it is or in the form of glucose, it might lead to increased bilirubin levels, weight loss and hospital stays for the baby. Water, juices etc tend to contain contaminants that might harm the baby more than doing it any good.

How Risky Can Water Be For Newborns And Older Babies?

  1. Water can lead to excessive increased bilirubin levels in the baby that causes jaundice1 in babies and might need longer hospital stays to cure the condition.
  2. Offering water might also hinder the normal breastfeeding routine and delay nursing sessions as the baby will tend to feel fuller and not want to nurse. This will disrupt the demand supply process of milk production.
  3. Water will prevent the baby from absorbing the essential nutrients from breast milk or formula milk and thus lead to poor or insufficient weight gain.
  4. Oral water intoxication has been noticed in babies who have been offered water way too early and this can be prevented by avoiding water intake till 6 months to a year.

After six months, you can offer small sips of water along with solids, but if your baby continues to be breastfed on demand, you can skip those sips of water too because his/her hydration is being taken good care of already.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonatal_jaundice