With summer in full swing, we are currently experiencing some of our hottest temperatures of the year. A common concern for parents is whether their baby is staying well hydrated and wonder if their baby needs to drink water like we do. This is not a surprise, as sometimes it can feel that we cannot stay hydrated enough either.
How Old Is Your Baby?
Staying hydrated is very important for babies when it is hot out, but with this being said, it depends on their age, as to whether or not they need to be offered or given water. Babies who are exclusively breastfed and who are under six months of age, do not require additional fluids, such as water. They are able to get all the hydration they need from breastmilk, which is made up of 88% water. Keep in mind though, they may require more frequent feedings, but for shorter periods of time to stay hydrated when the temperatures are warmer, just as we tend to drink more water (or should be!) when we are outside in the heat.
Babies who are formula fed and who are under six months of age, typically do not require additional fluids, such as water, either. Just like breastfed babies, they may want to feed more frequently to stay hydrated and get extra water into them that way. Before offering your baby (under six months of age) water, it is best to consult with your physician first.
Are They Taking Solids?
An easy way to remember when it is safe to introduce water to your baby, is to do this at the same time that you begin offering solids. This typically occurs around 6 months of age, but can be a bit sooner or a bit later, depending on the baby. It is common for them to only take a few sips to begin with, but this is completely fine! Their main source of nutrition continues to be breastmilk or formula at this time, so they are just beginning to find out what solid food and water is all about. Giving them no more than two ounces in a 24 hour period when they are four to six months old is recommended.
For babies under six months of age, it is safe practice to give them boiled tap water that has been cooled.Once baby reaches six months of age, there is no need to boil water for them, unless you are making powdered formula. Boiled water should always be used when making up powdered formula for your baby, no matter their age. If parents feel more comfortable, they can choose to boil drinking water for their babies until they are one year of age. For babies over 6 months of age, it is recommended that they continue to be breastfed and or formula fed and offered water in moderation. Four to six ounces per day is the recommendation for babies over six months of age. Water can also be helpful in preventing constipation when being offered with solid foods.
Can Water Be Harmful?
When baby is very young- under five weeks of age especially- giving them water can be risky. Often, we do not look at water as anything that could pose a serious effect on our babies, but it turns out, it can if they are too young. Too much can lead to oral water intoxication- a serious condition that can be prevented. Giving your very young baby water can also lead to weight loss or insufficient weight gain and increased bilirubin levels (jaundice). Water would fill your baby up, just like breastmilk or formula would, but lacks all of the nutrients that breastmilk or formula have that babies require to properly gain weight.
Giving your baby water can also lead to decreased milk supply, as baby would feel full and less interested in breastfeeding and would also be breastfeeding less often. When baby is very young and if mom has chosen to breastfeed, having baby at the breast often, is what helps mom to build an optimal milk supply.
As parents, we are always striving to do what is best for our babies! Keeping them adequately hydrated, especially when it is hot out, is always on our minds! I hope you found this article helpful and found it answered any questions you had on this topic. As always, feel free to reach out to a Mama Coach near you with any questions or concerns!