It is recommended to consume 8 glasses of water every day, but the same rule does not apply to babies? Wondering why?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), babies till the time they are 6 months old get all the hydration from breast milk or formula, even in hot weather. I still remember I was in a big dilemma about offering water to my little one. The climate was hot and my family was constantly forcing me to give water to her to keep her hydrated. But I am glad that I spoke to my doctor to find out the right time for the babies to begin drinking water.
Why is it not recommended to give water to babies before 6 months?
WHO recommends, babies, to be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age and not to feed babies water even in a hot climate. Breastmilk is 80% water and contains all the nutrients and fluids that the baby needs. If the mother feels that the baby is thirsty, she can breastfeed her. Apart from satisfying the thirst, it will also protect the baby from infections as breastmilk provides safe water. Water may not be clean and can cause infection and also put them at risk of diarrhea and malnutrition. Once the baby turns 6 months and has started solid food, then you can begin to give him sips of water, but make sure you do not overdo it as it might make him too full.
When a baby is given water before 6 months, it can interfere with the ability to absorb the nutrients present in breast milk or formula and also cause the baby to drink less breastmilk as she may feel full and hence can lead to malnutrition.
Another reason why babies should not be given water before 6 months is, babies’ kidneys are not fully matured, giving them too much water can cause their bodies to release sodium along with excess water. Losing sodium can affect brain activity and cause irritability, drowsiness and other mental changes.
It is best to check with your pediatrician about when and how to introduce water into your baby’s diet along with breast milk and formula.