Why It’s Dangerous For Newborn Babies to Drink Water?
Can I feed my newborn & infant below 6 months plain water?
While we all know that keeping hydrated is essential for health and well-being, newborn and infants under 6 months old should not be provided with plain water. You probably heard about this, but you might not know why. Here’s why you should not feed your baby any other form of fluid besides breast milk or infant formula.
Why water is dangerous?
- Water intoxication. Unlike adults, the vital organs like kidneys of the newborn and infants below 6 months are actually less developed. When their kidneys are provided with excess water that they are able to handle, a condition called hyponatremia occurs. This situation happens when they are unable to process too much water at a time, causing the blood to be over diluted, which is a very dangerous situation that may cause the swelling of the brain and to lesser extent, death.
- Nutrient inadequacy. When newborn and infants are fed with plain water, their stomach will be filled with fluid without nutrients, and this will negatively impact their growth and development.
When is the right time to feed them water?
You can start to feed your newborn or infant water when you start to wean your baby. It means complementary feeding, in other words, the introduction of pureed or solid food, and this should start when they are around 6 months old. Do remember to start with a small amount, not more than 2-4oz (60-120ml) per day and this shall not replace breast milk or infant formula as the main source of hydration.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s hydration or their readiness for water.
Article written by:
Foo Kai Li
Registered Member of Nutrition Society Malaysia (NSM)
𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐫: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐛𝐲 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐍𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐭 & 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐧. 𝐀𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.
- NHS (n.d). What is Weaning? Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/weaning/
- Parenthood Healthline, (2018). When Should My Baby Drink Water, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/babies-drink-water
- Parenthood Healthline, (2020). Why You Shouldn’t Give Your New Baby Water- and When They’ll Be Ready for It, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/why-cant-babies-have-water