When can babies drink water and what are the risks?

When can babies drink water?

Your baby gets all the hydration they need from breast milk, and therefore your baby shouldn’t need to drink water until they are about 6 months old.

Once your baby is 6 months old, its okay to give him sips of water when they are thirsty, however don’t overdo it. Their tummies are still sensitive and giving your baby too much water might them a tummy ache or makes them too full to eat well.

In general, your baby shouldn’t drink water until he’s about 6 months old. Until then, he gets all the hydration he needs from breast milk or formula, even in hot weather.

After the first birthday, when your baby’s eating solids and drinking whole milk, you can let them drink as much water as they like.


Why it’s unsafe to give water to babies under 6 months old.

When a baby younger than 6 months old consumes too much of water it can interfere with his body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in breast milk or formula. Too much water can also cause their tummy to feel full and curb their desire to feed, resulting in low nutrient intake.

Water intoxication in infants is exceptionally rare however it is worth understanding. Water intoxication happens when too much water dilutes the concentration of sodium in the body, upsetting the electrolyte balance and causing tissues to swell.


What about water in Formula?

If you stick to the package instructions of the formula you purchase, you should not be concerned about water intake. Do not however stretch formula by diluting it with more water. Adding too much water to your baby’s formula means that your baby is taking in fewer nutrients and you can risk water intoxication.


What to do if your baby is dehydrated?

If you suspect that your baby is dehydrated consult your health care professional immediately. Your doctor may advise you to introduce a paediatric electrolyte drink to help prevent dehydration.


When in doubt please consult your health care professional.






American Academy of Paediatrics

Baby Centre


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