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When can your baby start drinking water? A doc explains

Babies who drink too much water can develop Water Intoxication. This happens because too much water intake dilutes the sodium content in the body, which distresses the electrolyte balance. It can cause swelling in the tissues and even lead to a coma.

baby too much water A newborn baby shouldn’t be drinking normal water until six months. (Source: Getty Images)

By Dr Rita Bakshi

It is very essential to drink water throughout the day. Drinking optimum levels of water flushes out toxins from the body, regulates body temperature, boosts skin health, lubricates joints and delivers oxygen throughout the body. But, that’s not the same case with newborn babies. In an ideal situation, a newborn baby shouldn’t be drinking normal water until six months.

Why not?

This is so because giving too much water to a baby, who is not older than six months, can impede with his body’s ability to absorb nutrients in the milk. It can also lead to the baby’s tummy feeling fuller even when he or she is not. Adding to this, the mother’s milk contains 88 per cent of water and the rest is essential nutrition for the baby. The breastfeeds are enough to satiate the liquid requirements of the baby. Thus, the need for the baby’s water intake is somehow fulfilled with the mother’s milk.

Water intoxication

Babies who drink too much water can develop a condition known as Water Intoxication. This happens because too much water intake dilutes the sodium content in the body, which distresses the electrolyte balance. It can cause swelling in the tissues and even lead to a coma.

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Also, the immune system of babies is very weak and the existing contaminated and polluted water makes it unfit for their consumption. The kidneys of the little ones are also not fully developed, which is why they might flush out sodium along with excess water leaving them dehydrated. Babies who are under two months should not be given supplemental water as they can have increased exposure to several infections which can even lead to hospitalisation for the little one.

How much water should your baby have?

There are no specific guidelines as to how much water the baby should have. The first six months are very crucial and thus, for nourishment, the baby is entirely dependent on the mother. After six months, start giving your little one a few sips of water a couple of times a day which should be no more than 2 ounces d. Children who have formula milk should consume more water in comparison to babies who are breastfed.

As the baby grows and start consuming semi-solids, strike the right balance between breastfeeding, water intake and foods. As the mother reduces the breastfeeds, she must substantially increase the water intake for proper hydration and growth.

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Babies who are one to three years old must have 30-40 ounces of water every day. By this time, the baby is completely done with breastfeeding and requires this much water in the entire day.

The needs and requirements of babies change from time to time. It is very essential to consult your gynaecologist and paediatrician to know what’s right for your baby.

(The writer is Senior Gynaecologist and IVF Expert, International Fertility Centre.)

First published on: 27-06-2019 at 06:05:06 pm
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