Is it okay to give a newborn/infant water?

Kayla - posted on 06/09/2010 ( 21 moms have responded )




When I was breastfeeding my daughter (from about 0-4months), my mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law would always try to tell me to give her water because she was thirsty or she needed it. Thank god my mom is a nurse and told me to not do it because she gets enough from me and it just empty nutrients and she will get filled up by the water. What are you thoughts on the proper age to give a child water?


[deleted account]

No. You shouldn't give your newborn water or sugar water. And if you're feeding powdered or concentrated formula to your baby, never dilute it with more than the amount of water called for on the label.

Your infant will get all the necessary hydration from breast milk or formula. Even when a mother's milk supply is just coming in during the first few days after delivery, the baby is getting colostrum, which is enough to keep her well hydrated.

Water can interfere with a young baby's ability to absorb the nutrients in breast milk or formula and, because it can make her feel full, it may prevent her from feeding as much as she should.

Giving water to an infant can also cause water intoxication, a serious condition that happens when too much water dilutes the concentration of sodium in the body, upsetting the electrolyte balance and causing tissues to swell. It's uncommon but serious, potentially causing seizures and even a coma.

If a young baby needs more hydration – because of a bout of gastroenteritis, for example – the doctor may recommend an electrolyte drink like Pedialyte or Infalyte.

You may have heard of researchers using sugar water to pacify babies during immunizations. While this practice might safely be used during a medical procedure, giving your baby sugar water at home (whether in an effort to pacify her or quench her thirst) isn't a good idea. She doesn't need the water, and the sugar isn't good for her.


In general, it's not a good idea to give your baby water until he's about 6 months old. Until then, he'll get all the hydration he needs from breast milk or formula, even in hot weather.

Giving a baby younger than 6 months old too much water can interfere with his body's ability to absorb the nutrients in breast milk or formula. It can also cause his tummy to feel full, which curbs his desire to feed. (While small sips of water probably won't hurt your baby, it's best to check with his doctor beforehand during those first six months.)

In rare cases, a baby who drinks too much water can develop a condition known as water intoxication, which can cause seizures and even a coma. Water intoxication happens when too much water dilutes the concentration of sodium in the body, upsetting the electrolyte balance and causing tissues to swell.

Adding too much water to your baby's formula not only risks water intoxication, it means that your baby is taking in fewer nutrients than he needs. Carefully follow the package directions for mixing powdered or concentrated formula and don't try to stretch formula by using more than the recommended amount of water.

In some instances – if your baby has gastroenteritis, for example – the doctor might advise you to give him an electrolyte drink like Pedialyte or Infalyte to help prevent dehydration.

Once your baby is 6 months old, it's okay to give him sips of water when he's thirsty. You still don't want to overdo it, though, or you might give him a tummy ache or make him too full to eat well. After his first birthday, when your baby's eating solids and drinking whole milk, you can let him drink as much water as he likes.

Rosie - posted on 06/10/2010




i agree with jodi as well, i believe these recommendations are there because some people out there don't know when enough is enough. a couple sips here and there isn't going to hurt a baby younger than 6 months as long as they are getting all of their other formula or breastmilk.
i'm seriously starting to wonder how many idiotic people there are out there that are doing these things to their children that they have to make these rules. putting rice cereal in bottles doesn't cause choking, putting TOO MUCH rice cereal in a bottle does, cold medicine doesn't kill children, giving them too much of it mixed with other drugs does. use common sense and your kid will be fine.

Joanna - posted on 08/09/2010




The only time I ever gave my daughter water as a newborn was when she was 5-6 weeks old and there was a big fire nearby, so we kept all the window's closed due to ash, and our air conditioning was broken. So I'd give her a little bit, maybe an ounce total, just to help keep give her extra hydration (I was drinking a ton of water, so I figured a few sips would help her, too).
Otherwise I didn't start giving her water until the next summer when she was about 7 months old, and only then it was 2 oz tops a day and only when it was very hot.

Nikki - posted on 06/13/2010




My health nurse told me that breast fed babies should not have water at all until they start solids as it messes up the electrolyte balance in their tummies, also you risk water intoxication. She said breast milk adapts to your babies need, eg if it's hot it will quench thirst and hydrate, I have never really looked into it, I just took her word for it. My Doctor told me to think of formula more as a food, if it was hot (which it was when my daughter switched from breast milk to formula full time) offer small sips of boiled water throughout the hottest periods of the day, she was about 5-6 months at this stage.


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Amanda - posted on 08/08/2010




Like Jodi A, i too live in Queensland, Australia and had a February Baby. We were having a heat wave at the time and i gave my son small amounts of boild tepid water at 2-4 months on a recommendation from a Peadiatrican and my GP. He was a very healthy breast fed baby and we had no issues with it. My next baby is due January 2011 which is even warmer still.

Jenny - posted on 06/12/2010




My kids would get bunged up sometimes as BF babies and I gave them a bit of boiled, filtered water to clear out their systems. It worked great.

Amy - posted on 06/12/2010




No, definitely not! Meghan's response is great & I'm pleased so many people know this is a bad idea :-)
I had this problem with my MIL when I was breastfeeding my small baby. I was so concerned that she'd give her bottles of water that in the end I printed out some data for her.

[deleted account]

Not typically until 6 months.....dangerous for their lil' tummies! The other moms have summed things up quite nicely!

Zoe - posted on 06/10/2010




I was told not to give my son water as i was breastfeeding and he would get enough from my milk. i didn't give him water till he went on to a bottle at 4 or 5 weeks and he didn't dehydrate. in my understanding they ony need water when bottle feeding or if it extremely hot

Meghan - posted on 06/10/2010




I totally understand when it is really hot, a couple sips after a feeding would probably be beinifcial. My son was a newborn during the winter so that wasn't an issue for me...besides that-the kid was never off my chest...I don't know when I would have snuck some water in lol.

Jane - posted on 06/10/2010




What Meghan posted is absolutely right, however, with my daughter (now 20), I lived in Southern California at the time and when she was born, we had record breaking heat (117 on the day I delievered). I breastfed her but I also gave her 1 to 1-1/2 ounces of water during the mid-day based on the recommendations of her pediatrician and nurses....ONLY through the heat wave. Once the heatwave was done, and we were back down to normal, no more water 'til she was on solids at 6 months. I laugh because she's water crazy...choose water over anything else. Never was a huge juice or soda drinker...just wanted/wants her water, still to this day. I think it's cuz' of those 1 to 1-1/2 ounces when she was an infant (LOL).

Meghan - posted on 06/10/2010




My ex always tried to get me to give our son water when he was a newborn...I wasn't sure so I asked my doctor and he said absolutly not. It is an "empty calorie" for a small child and therefore will fill them up quicker and they wont eat as much.

[deleted account]

I offer water in a sippy cup only. My daughter is 7mths and it is a great way to keep her occupied in the high chair while I am getting supper ready and she can learn to drink from a cup at the same time without wasting breastmilk or formula.

Joanna - posted on 06/10/2010




The only time my daughter got water before she was about 6-7 months old was when she was just a month old, we had really bad fires nearby, and our air conditioning was broken, so for awhile we had the windows open until we realized we had a huge amount of ash in our house (on everything and in the air), so we shut the windows, and it got really hot. So I gave my daughter a teeny amount of water, maybe an ounce, every day for a week until the fires died down. I figured with the ash in the air, plus the heat, a little water could do her some good. Other than that, she had her formula, and no water/juice until she was 7-8 months old.

Amy - posted on 06/10/2010




I wouldn't give watter to a newborn who is 0-3 or 4 months. We gave our son watter at sometime between 3 and 4 months, he was drinking almost 50 oz of my milk a day and still thirsty. We didn't give him much, and we never gave it when it was close to feeding time, either after he drank a 8-9 oz bottle or 30-60 min after eating. I don't think we ever gave more than 1-2 oz either, just a little.

Every baby's different, if he didn't drink as much of my milk I doubt he'd have gotten any watter until 6-9 months at the earliest.

Lady - posted on 06/10/2010




I agree with Jodi - in extreme heat then a little water is fine - otherwise breastfeeding babies don't need extra water.

[deleted account]

I would say that once they are started on solids they need water. Obviously solids are not for newborns so there is no need for water at that stage. I've been told that formula fed babies might need small amounts of water if they are very thirsty and don't want a feed. BF babies can just be nursed if they are thirsty.

[deleted account]

Breastfed babies don't need water until they start solids (6+ months). If your baby is thirsty you just nurse them. I have read that you can give formula fed babies small amounts of water when it's hot, but I don't know how much or what the age would be.

Sherri - posted on 06/09/2010




They say not until they are 6mo's they get all the water they need for breast milk or formula.

Jodi - posted on 06/09/2010




OK, I gave my son a small amount of water from about 2-3 months on. He was a September baby, and we live in Australia, so it can get VERY hot in the summer (December - February). We had no air conditioning. So I gave him, on doctor's advice, very small amounts of water on those really hot days (and we are talking 35 degrees Celcius plus) when he was obviously struggling with the heat. I never reduced his intake of formula, but kept him hydrated with small amounts of chilled boiled water in between feeds.

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