When can my baby start taking water? Such questions linger in the minds of most breastfeeding mothers. Currently, your baby’s main meal may compose of breastmilk and you are thinking about when to start giving water to your newborn.
Water is vital for maintaining good health in adults and babies. However, your baby may not need it during the early stages of life because your baby should not take water unless he is 6 months old. Until then, your baby should take breast milk and/or formulas (medically indicated) only, as they are ideal for all weathers.
When your baby turns six months, you can start to give water at a slow rate. Giving him water when he is only thirsty works for him. Giving your baby excess water could make his tummy ache and in worst case scenario, his appetite may decrease.
Why it is unsafe to give water to babies less than 6-month old?
Too much water in a younger baby’s stomach could lead to problems with nutrient absorption. It will also make a child’s tummy full, hence reduces the child’s appetite for food. In some cases, drinking too much water could cause a condition called water intoxication. The condition occurs when the excess water in the body dilutes the concentration of sodium affecting the balance of the electrolytes. Electrolyte imbalance could lead to tissue malfunctioning that can cause serious health issues.
Giving water to young babies can also make them susceptible to health problems such as diarrhoea. Unclean or unhealthy water are the main causes of stomach issues in babies. Besides, they can make your baby stop breastfeeding. A mother who gives water instead of breastmilk will produce less milk in the preceding days/weeks.
You should always breastfeed your baby when he feels thirsty. Breast milk contains over 80% water in each feed and breastfeeding will quench the baby’s thirst. Breastfeeding will also protect your baby from infections while satisfying his thirst. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding a baby for the first six months of life.
How much water should a child have?
When your baby crosses the 6-month age tag, it is the right time to offer him water. You should offer your baby a few sips of water when starting out. The best time for giving water is when your baby starts taking solid foods.