~ By Ashley Low
You need to drink water every day. But, does your baby? Water helps to regulate your body temperature, eliminates wastes, gets your joints moving smoothly and keeps you healthy. Sounds like something that everyone should have every day, right? Well, kind of. Water is 100% necessary. But, when it comes straight out of the tap or a bottle (and, not the baby kind), your infant may not need it.
Isn’t hydration important?
Yes! Absolutely. Your baby can get dehydrated quickly. Whether you’re outside on a hot day, she’s sick or she’s extra active, when dehydration happens – it’s a serious problem. That said, your newborn or young baby doesn’t exactly have the same hydration needs as an adult. More specifically, your baby doesn’t hydrate like you do. You might grab a chilly bottle of water to cool down after a workout, but the same strategy won’t work for your baby.
How should a young baby get hydration?
Babies under 6-months typically get all the hydration they need from what they’re already drinking – breast milk or formula. If your baby is suffering from dehydration, seek medical help before trying plain water. Clearly, your baby can’t tell you that she’s feeling a bit dehydrated. Instead, you need to look for symptoms. These include going longer than six hours without a wet diaper, dark and/or strong-smelling urine, dry/cracked lips, crying without tears, excessive sleepiness, cold and/or splotchy hands and feet or sunken eyes. Your medical provider will tell you what to do if your baby truly is dehydrated. This may include giving her an electrolyte drink or going in to the office/hospital for an IV.
Why shouldn’t younger babies have water?
Well, there’s the obvious reason – it’s not going to give her the nutrition that her body needs right now. There’s a reason that mum makes milk, and not water. Along with that, drinking too much water may decrease her body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the rest of her diet (formula or breast milk, that is).
Doesn’t formula require water?
Yes, it sure does. That is, if you’re mixing it yourself. But, that doesn’t mean that you should add extra water to make the powder last longer or to give your baby more hydration. Formula manufacturers have carefully created very specific instructions for you to use. Always follow these, and never mix in more water than the package says.
What about my baby’s photo shoot?
You’re bringing along a full bottle of water for yourself to sip on during the sunny outdoor session. As you make sure that your hydration needs are met, you’re also wondering if your baby needs the same. Just because you’ll be outside doesn’t mean that you should ignore the ‘no water for babies under 6-months’ rule. If you’re concerned that the heat or sun will bother your little one, make sure she has enough breast milk or formula to keep her happy and healthy (and, watch out for any possible symptoms of dehydration).
What about older babies?
If your baby is older than 6-months, you can give her some water. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to hand over a full bottle of water. But, a few sips of water are okay. Avoid more than four ounces over the course of the day. Why? Too much water may cause tummy troubles. Taking more than a sip here or there may also fill your baby up — instead of getting the nourishing food that she needs. As your baby rounds the 1-year mark, it becomes safer to gradually give her more water. When your baby is at least 12-months, eating a solid food diet and drinking whole milk, you can offer a sippy cup of water or mix juice with it. Keep in mind, water shouldn’t replace milk and shouldn’t be the only drink that your toddler has.