Giving Water to Babies: The Ins & Outs

Disclaimer – this information is NHS & WHO sourced.

Offering water to babies is often a pretty touchy subject, as there are lots of misconceptions floating around.

Breast fed babies…

…should not be given water until they are on solids. This is because breast milk has a water content of over 80% (particularly the foremilk), and offering additional water can not only affect supply (due to the supply and demand mechanism involved with breastfeeding), but can also lead to hyponatremia, which is in essence water intoxication, causing important minerals and salts to be flushed out of your baby. This can be extremely dangerous, even fatal! In hot weather, keep offering boob and keep yourself hydrated.

Here is the WHO (World Health Organisation) statement on giving water to breastfed babies.

Formula fed babies…

…are ok to have 1-2 ounces a day in hot weather as formula is not as hydrating as breast milk. 1-2 ounces avoids replacing feeds and avoids flushing out important minerals, as stated above. It is advisable to speak to a GP or Health Visitor first before offering water, just to be on the safe side! It is also advised that only older infants are offered small amounts of water, not newborns unless specifically medically advised.

For babies under six months, use water from the mains tap in the kitchen. You’ll need to boil and then cool down the tap water because it isn’t sterile straight from the tap and can harbour nasty bugs. Water for babies over six months doesn’t need to be boiled.

Bottled water isn’t recommended for making up formula or for offering as a drink, as it may contain too much sodium, or sulphate, although some countries such as the US actually produce some bottled water especially for young children – handy if you’re off on your holidays!

I hope that this information is handy!

Love from Katie. Xx

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