If you’re a new parent, you may be wondering whether you can or should let your baby drink water. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your little one is 6 months old to introduce water, whether he is breastfed or formula-fed. Let’s take a look at the reasons behind this recommendation, as well as some further suggestions for introducing water to your older baby.
Why You Should Wait Until 6 Months
It can be tempting to give your little one water before they’re 6 months old, especially if it’s hot outside. However, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, breast milk or formula provides all the water your baby needs. Experts recommend waiting to give babies water until they’re 6 months old. The primary reason for this is that the stomachs of young babies are small, and plain water makes them feel full. In turn, they may consume less breast milk or formula, which can cause issues with malnourishment and even serious problems like water intoxication.
It is particularly important to not give water to infants under 3 months of age when too much water can affect a baby’s electrolyte balance and even interfere with normal heart and brain functions.
If your baby is sick and doesn’t have an appetite for breast milk or formula, don’t offer water. Instead, ask your pediatrician about electrolyte replacement drinks like Pedialyte.
Why You Should Never Dilute Formula
It’s important to note that you if you use formula, you should never dilute it with extra water. Watered-down infant formula can lead to a serious condition called water intoxication, and prevent your baby from absorbing the vital nutrients and calories he needs in order to thrive. Remember that even on hot days, a baby under 6 months old is getting plenty of hydration from his regular formula or breast milk consumption.
On that note, if you aren’t already using purified water to make your baby’s formula, there are several reasons why it’s a good idea to start.
When your little one reaches 6 months, you can begin to introduce water. Keep in mind that breast milk or formula is still required throughout his or her first year of life, so think of water as a supplement to your baby’s normal diet.
Many parents begin offering sips of water with baby’s first solid foods, as the extra liquid can help prevent constipation. Around 6 months is a common age for parents to introduce sippy cups, to help babies learn to hold and drink from a cup. After about 9 months of age, as your little one’s solids intake increases and they get the hang of drinking from a cup, your baby may go from taking a few sips here and there to drinking 2-4 ounces of water per day.
Take this opportunity to teach your baby healthy habits from the start by offering water rather than sugary drinks like fruit juice. Fruit juice is a significant cause of tooth decay and is not recommended for infants under 1 year. Not only is water a better choice in terms of health and dental hygiene, but it also creates less of a mess in the inevitable case of spills!
Finally, to ensure your baby is drinking water that’s of the highest quality—free of contaminants commonly found in tap water and bottled water—choose purified water for your family.