One of the steps along the way of making that transition from formula or breast milk to solid foods is drinking water. Drinking water helps your baby to keep hydrated, especially during hot days. Until your baby is about the age of six months old, however, there’s no reason to give your baby water. She will get all of the nutrients and liquids that she needs from formula or from breast milk.
There can be some problems caused if you give your baby water too early. It may interfere with the way that your baby’s body absorbs nutrients, for example. In addition to that, drinking water may make your baby feel more full. This, in turn, will decrease his appetite, running the risk that he won’t get enough to eat because he feels full. Small sips of water may not have this kind of effect, but you should most definitely talk with your pediatrician before doing so.
In some very rare circumstances, if your baby drinks too much water she can wind up with water intoxication. This condition can be very serious. It can lead to seizures, or it can in some cases even put her in a coma. This condition occurs when the amount of water in your baby’s body causes the sodium to be diluted. This causes an electrolyte imbalance, which leads to tissue swelling.
Make sure to add the right amount of water to your baby’s formula, rather than putting extra in. Putting too much water in can mean that your baby won’t get all of the nutrients in the formula. Don’t try to make the formula last longer by using less formula or more water.
If your baby’s doctor is concerned about dehydration, she may recommend specific supplements for your baby. This might include Pedialyte, a drink that is designed specifically to help prevent infants from becoming dehydrated.
After the age of six months, you can give your baby sips of water. Don’t give her too much, or you will run the risk of causing a stomach ache. After one year, you can let your baby drink as much as she wants to drink, as she’ll get her nutrients from the solids and the whole milk that she’s drinking.