We all know how important it is for our little ones to stay hydrated and healthy. But did you know you shouldn’t give babies water until they’re at least 6 months old and weaning?
Read more: Signs of dehydration in babies
Why is water not suitable for babies under 6 months?
Before the 6-month mark, all your baby needs as their food and water is breastmilk or formula to keep them healthy and growing. Giving your baby water before this point could mean they don’t drink as much milk which could lead to insufficient weight gain and a milk deficiency for mum if they’re feeding less.
Another serious consequence of giving young babies water before they’re old enough is that it could cause a chemical imbalance as water can lead to water intoxication. This is a potentially dangerous condition where electrolytes in a baby’s bloodstream become diluted which can impact a baby’s normal body functions.
When can I give my baby water?
Once your little one is 6 months of age and they’ve started eating solid foods, you can introduce them to water. The water should help them digest their food easier to ease constipation.
According to the NHS, tap water for babies over 6 months doesn't need to be boiled and cooled before they drink it. When you do give it to them, only give them small amounts of water in a sippy cup (no more than 4-6 ounces). Bottled water isn’t recommended for babies as it may contain too much sodium.
It’s also still a good idea to keep feeding your baby breastmilk or formula alongside any water or solid foods to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need and this will benefit them for as long as you want to carry on. As your baby increases their intake of solid foods and water, the amount of milk they want will decrease and some babies may even drop their milk feeds and formula feeds altogether.
Read more: A beginner's guide to weaning
Why should my baby drink water?
When they reach the 6-month mark, there are many benefits to giving your baby water.
Keeps them hydrated - especially in the warm, summer months.
Aides the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to cells
Helps their digestion process
Gets them used to drinking from a cup
Keeps joints and tissue healthy
Water is also a much better liquid to give your baby than fruit juices, which the NHS say you shouldn’t give to a baby younger than 12 months.
In particularly hot weather, there is a risk of your tot becoming dehydrated, so they may need extra water to stay cool and hydrated. Be sure to give them regular sips of water throughout the day to avoid any dehydration and seek any medical advice from your GP if you’re concerned. You can find the signs of dehydration in babies here.