When Babies Can Have Water?

March 01, 2018

Many new mothers inevitably wonder when babies can have water?  Unfortunately, if you ask 5 different people, then you will get 5 different answers.  There doesn’t appear to be a strong consensus.  This article looks at the research to give you an informed answer so you can make the right decision.


Problem Cases

Water is one of the necessities in life for human beings, however if given to babies too soon or in too large a quantity it can be fatal or cause serious health consequences.  There are many cases in the media where this is unfortunately the case.  For example, some parents have tried watering down the mother’s breast milk because she wasn’t expressing enough or because they couldn’t afford baby formula.  In these cases, babies will often suffer from hyponatremia (i.e., water intoxification) as a result of the watered down breast milk.  There are cases in Australia where a mother put her daughter’s life at risk by feeding her diluted cordial because she couldn’t afford formula.



Why Does Water Intoxication Occur?

It happens when infants or people consume too much water with too few nutrients in it.  As a result the sodium in the individual blood system drops to unhealthily low levels because the kidney will not be able to excrete enough fluid.  This can lead to vision problems, cramping or even swelling in the brain region.  Babies are at an increased risk of developing this condition because they are soo small and their kidneys have not fully developed as of yet.  They also haven’t developed the mechanism to regulate how much liquids they consume.  Essentially babies have a massive drive to drink, which can cause problems if they are consuming water too early.


What Is The Right Age To Start Water

According to most experts, it is generally recommended that mothers don’t start their babies on water until the age of 6 months of age.  Dehydration is a concern for most parents, especially those living in hot climates.  Just make sure to keep feeding them breast milk or infant formula.  Remember that the first milk that a baby receives from the mothers breast will have low fat content and be best suited to satisfy their needs for hydration.


How To Do It?

When you are offering your baby solids at 6 months of age, try to combine food time with sips of water from the sippy cup or feeding them small spoons of water depending on their development.


What Are The Symptoms of Water Intoxication?

After the age of 6 months, be on the watch out for the following problems:


  • Low Body Temperature (36 degress or less)
  • Swelling of Face


Make sure to call 000 or 911 immediately if you detect any signs of water detoxification.


Want to know more?  Why not call our office to book an appointment with one of our GPs to discuss transitions to solids and water or other aspects of your child’s health.