Babies’ tummies are quite small. Especially in the first six months of their lives. Thus, it is critical to provide much-needed nutrients and minerals for them to grow and develop at this early age. Rather than giving them a substance that is not beneficial for their health, water. Breastmilk or formula milk are the only liquid babies need to give their bodies’ required nutrition and hydration until they are ready to start solid foods.
Giving water to babies when their body is not yet fully developed will only curb their appetite for milk. This can interfere with infants’ ability to receive proper nourishment which can lead to malnutrition. Aside from that, water can cause an electrolytes imbalance to babies which may result to seizures. The wrong water and milk ratio when preparing formula milk may also cause the same complications.
Another serious health complication that may occur for giving water to infants at early age is water intoxication. All kidneys have a limit on how much water they can handle. Exceeding that limit will send water into the bloodstream resulting to dilution of important electrolytes like sodium. This can then lead to hyponatremia which means too little salt in the blood.
Since the babies’ kidneys are small and underdeveloped, they can’t process much water at a time. Making them at high risk of hyponatremia when they drink water at a very young age. Even at a moderate amount. Hyponatremia may cause brain swelling or even deaths to infants. Signs of this condition are: seizures, tremors, lethargy, vomiting, and inconsolable crying. Rush to the emergency room immediately when you see these indications.
It is important to note that water intoxication and hyponatremia can happen to anyone, including adults. So, it is crucial to watch out for babies’ water intake even when they are more than six months old. Do not forced them to drink ounces of water at once. The recommended water intake for six to nine months old babies are only two to four ounces a day. When they are older, they can drink as much as they want. Allowing them drink to quench their thirst.
Introducing water to babies can be hard. They may refuse it at first as the taste is new to their tongue. Be patient in this process as it may take time before they will willingly drink water. Allow them to adjust and get used to water by offering them to sip the liquid from their favorite cup multiple times a day. You may also put water on a baby bottle or offer it using a spoon after meal time. Do not worry if they spill all the water that you put in their mouth. They won’t dehydrate while they continue to drink breastmilk or formula milk.
Thanks to word of mouth and pediatricians’ advice, most moms are aware that water should not be introduced to babies under six months old. But now, you also know the reasons behind the guideline.