Should you feed your baby water? A paediatrician explains

Paediatricians advise feeding babies only breast milk until they’re six months old

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[This article was originally published in 2018]

Babies do not need water in the same way that children and adults do, even on a hot summer’s day.

According to a study published by the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, breast milk is incredibly rich in water with a low concentration of electrolytes.

This means that breast milk can sufficiently hydrate your baby for the first six months of its life.

However, some parents may be unaware of the potential consequences of supplying their young tots with water.

Danielle Stringer, a paediatrician otherwise known as the KidNurse, outlined the reasons why parents should avoid quenching their babies’ thirst with water when they’re too young.

“Babies do NOT need water the same way adults do. In fact, babies should not be offered water until they are six months old,” Stringer wrote on her blog.

“Here’s a fact that many parents do not know: breast milk is composed of 88 per cent water. Breast milk or formula has all the fluid that your baby needs!”

If a baby is given too much water, this can result in water intoxication, according to Stringer.

“Water intoxication is the process that occurs when a baby is given too much water and the water then causes sodium (salt) dilation in the body,” Stringer writes.

Stringer advised that babies who are six months old should only consume two ounces of water in 24 hours until their first birthday. However, you should always seek professional advice from your doctor.

The NHS says: "Fully breastfed babies don't need any water until they've started eating solid foods. Formula-fed babies may need some extra water in hot weather.

“For babies under six months, you should not use water straight from the mains tap in the kitchen as it is not sterile. You will need to boil the tap water first and then let it cool down. Water for babies over six months doesn't need to be boiled.”

The NHS also recommends not feeding your baby bottled water in formula feeds as it “may contain too much salt (sodium) or sulphate”.

Always use boiled water at a temperature of at least 70C when you prepare a feed. Remember to let the feed cool before you give it to your baby, it adds.

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