What's in This Guide?
- 1 First Foods Supplied to Babies
- 2 Breast Milk
- 3 Formula
- 4 Three Types of Formula Based on Constituent
- 5 Three Types of Formula Based on their Methods of Preparation
- 6 Introducing Babies to Water
- 7 The Baby and Water
- 8 The Dangers of Giving the Baby Water too Early
- 9 Why Give the Baby Water?
- 10 Introducing the Baby to a Sippy Cup
- 11 Giving the Baby Water During Hot Weather
- 12 How to Know if Your Baby is Suffering from Dehydration?
- 13 How to Prevent Dehydration?
- 14 Encourage Your Baby to Take More Fluid
- 15 Conclusion
What happens if you give a Baby Water? Is it Safe?
Water is the first liquid that comes to mind when we are thirsty and in need of hydration. Hence, water is essential, and it is essential to the growth and development of humans. While water intake is crucial to humans, it deems unfit for babies to be introduced to water too soon. The reason isn’t far-fetched, as babies require enough breast milk, much more the colostrum; thus, they are attached to their mother’s breast as soon as possible.
In the absence of breast milk, babies are often fed suitable liquid foods that are quite rich in nutrients. But not to worry, the baby gets hydration from what they are allowed to take in the first few months of their lives. Therefore, it only takes a matter of time before they are allowed to drink some water.
First Foods Supplied to Babies
Immediately after birth, babies start searching for foods, and the typical foods they are first supplied with, includes:
Breast milk is usually the first option to keep babies satiated. They are highly nutritious, and they evolve throughout the period your baby is fed, changing to meet up with your nutrient needs. The first milk known as Colostrum is known to contain a lot of antibodies, proteins, and other nutrients that help fight germs and keep babies healthy.
Therefore, babies must feed on that first breast milk. Aside from these nutrients, several millions of cells include both the white blood cells (leucocytes), keeping babies protected from disease infections.
Science has proven that breast milk contains 88 percent water, which means that the breast milk comprises mainly of water and other nutrients such as fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals required for growth and the development of a baby. They are mixed in the right proportion. By rule, breast milk is the first food a baby takes in and is emphasized as the golden standard for the baby’s proper development and wellness.
Breast milk is crucial for the formation of the child, and so is recognized the world over by health practitioners as an essential source of nutrition. Breast milk is a complete source of nutrition and contains antibodies that help protect the baby from sickness by improving the baby’s immune system.
Formulas need a different proportion of water-dependent on the number of soluble ingredients.There are mainly three types of formula based on preparation and or based on its constituents. They are available in powdered forms, concentrate, liquid, and ready-to-feed forms usually served using a feeding bottle, cup, or plate.
They are often recommended in cases where breast milk is absent or not enough. That mother’s breast milk isn’t healthy for the child (due to disease infection), recommendations based on personal opinions, or the baby has a high risk of malnutrition. However, the use of formulas is not 100% acceptable, as most authorities advise that breastfeeding should be the only form of feeding for the first six months of the baby’s life.
Three Types of Formula Based on Constituent
- Cow Milk Formula; these are protein-based and allow the alteration of cow milk to look like that of breast milk, and most baby formulas constitute cow milk.
- Soy Formula; this kind of formula is produced with soybeans as the primary raw material. This soy formula was developed to cut out cow milk for a child’s nutrition and is available for parents who want to remove animal protein from their child’s diet. They are mainly substitutes for cow milk and are comprehensively produced from soybeans.
- Protein Hydrolysate Formula; these kinds of formulas are comprised of protein that has been broken down partly or comprehensively than those in soy-based formula or cow milk. These types of formulas are made for babies that are allergic to cow milk or a soy-based formula.
Three Types of Formula Based on their Methods of Preparation
- Powder Formula; this is measured per scoop as it needs to be mixed with water before the baby can take it, and it must be mixed in the right proportion, so it doesn’t lose many calories before it is fed to the baby. And the water used in mixing it should come from a safe source and a clean environment. Each scoop of this formula is soluble in two ounces of water, and so every meal is measured by two ounces of water. It is the most popular and the cheapest in the market, although it can be stored for a longer time.
- Liquid Concentrate; this is measured in ounces, too, based on the amount of water required. This liquid concentrate is more expensive than the powder formula because it requires less water to mix it.
- Ready to Feed Formula; this is premixed formulas with liquid and offers parents comfort, howbeit at a high cost as it is the most expensive of the three types of formula based on their methods of preparation. It comes with the required amount of water and so extra preparation is not needed.
Introducing Babies to Water
We have stated that the baby should not start taking water until they get to a particular stage. Also, we mentioned the first two liquid foods that babies should start with before they start supplementing with alternative semi-solid or solid foods, along with water. So, at what age should the baby begin to drink water?
The most widely accepted time is when these babies clock six months old. During this time, when you introduce babies to water, you must employ some unique means of giving them water. Remember that the baby is already used to breast milk and the formulas they are fed on, and thus, water would seem quite strange to them.
Once your baby is six months old and you start giving him water, you should be careful, thoroughly considering the right quantity of water to supply. It is important to note that the quantity of water the baby takes increases at different growth stages. However, it is advised that babies are introduced to water slowly and carefully.
From the age of 6 months to 12 months, the baby should be given between 4 to 6 ounces of water per day. Similarly, you can start introducing them to solid foods too, which is the main reason the baby now requires water as a supplement. At this stage, if the baby is still being fed with only breast milk, you might opt-out of giving him water. Then, if he is fed with formulas, a little water is necessary, and that’s because formulas are composed of a lesser amount of water than breast milk.
Between the age of one and three years, the amount of water the baby now requires increases, and it is recommended that at age one to three, the baby be given 30 ounces of water and up to 40 ounces when required. You may want to ask if that’s not too much water already, especially when the baby is still breastfed.
Hence, it becomes essential that you consult your pediatrician for expert advice on when it is suitable to administer water to your baby according to his behavior and nutrition patterns. This consultation is significant, so you don’t get to fill your baby’s stomach with water, thereby denying him the privilege of getting the required nutrients for his growth and development.
The Baby and Water
Like with new things and trends, you must carefully watch out for your baby’s reaction when you start giving him water. When you hand him a water bottle, check out for his reaction, and if it goes well with him, you may introduce him to a more considerable amount of water. Please note that the baby’s drinking water should be at room temperature when cold or the best lukewarm water.
Take care not to give your baby water that is too hot or too cold, as such water can cause the baby a lot of unease. Health practitioners also recommend across the world that you boil the baby’s water and allows it to cool off before giving it to him, as this helps eradicate harmful microbes.
In no case should water serve as a meal to the baby, as water is only a supplement; thus, you should not replace the baby’s meal with water. If a baby is filled with water, he won’t be able to take in breast milk or formula, and so the baby may lack the necessary nutrients required for growth. Therefore, it becomes necessary to feed your baby with a little water and increase the volume when his eating ability increases.
Feeding the baby with breast milk should be his primary source of nutrients until he attains one’s age. You expose your baby to danger if he is fed too much water. It is so because the tap water you drink as an adult contains some impurities, though not harmful to you, could be too much of a risk for a baby and his immune system.
The Dangers of Giving the Baby Water too Early
There are dangers of giving your babies water until they are six months old, although rare, but we must address them. Such dangers include; malnutrition, dehydration, and intoxication.
Replacing breast milk or formula with water has the potency to dehydrate a baby, and sadly it does not meet up with the much-needed nutrient the baby requires for his growth and development. The baby is filled with the same amount of liquid he can take but lacks the required amount of nutrients. Thus, this may lead to weight loss or even stop the baby from gaining weight, which will trigger malnourishment, which harms the baby’s health.
The main aim of giving water to a baby is to hydrate him, and that’s why most parents want to start giving their babies water at an early age. But water doesn’t have the kind of effects it has on adults or plants on babies. You must note that the baby’s kidneys are still very much underdeveloped at an early age and so cannot imbibe extra water. It can lead to the release of sodium and water in the baby’s urine, which leads to the dehydration of the baby and can as well reduce brain activity in the baby.
Giving excess water to a baby who is still used to taking breast milk and formula is dangerous. If the baby’s body notices an imbalance of electrolytes, it may react in many ways. These reactions include being unresponsive to the things around him, low body temperature, being irritable, and, in worse cases, can cause the baby brain swelling and seizures.
Why Give the Baby Water?
Once a baby is six months old, it isn’t bad for him to have water like every other adult. Water as a hydration source has some benefits that are much-needed for a baby’s growth and development.
1. As a source of transportation
In the human body, some recipient tissues and organs are far from the production of certain hormones. So, there must be a medium of transportation between the producing organs and the receiving organs. Water helps the body transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and through this same method of transportation, toxic wastes are removed from the blood.
2. As a lubricant
Water acts as a lubricant in the joints and tissues of a baby. It also makes up the baby’s saliva.
3. As a substitute
Pediatricians do not encourage that a baby is given fruit juice until he attains the age of one, so water serves as the much-needed substitute.
Water helps to maintain a stable blood volume.
Introducing the Baby to a Sippy Cup
Before the baby attains the age of one, he should drink from a Sippy cup without aid. Thus, you should try guiding your baby to learn this skill before getting a year old. Introducing your baby to a sippy cup can occur between the ages of 6-7 months, and you have to do this continuously while taking proper precautions until your baby has mastered this art.
- An ideal Sippy cup for a baby should have a handle and either of straw or soft spout.
- The baby may spit or cough out the liquid at first, which makes it essential to hold or sit your baby in an upright position to prevent the baby from choking.
- Babies learn by imitation, and so if the baby seems confused on how to go about drinking from his Sippy cup, it is recommended that you demonstrate to him, and this requires that you have another cup on the sideline for yourself and mimic what the baby should do with his cup.
- Babies learn slowly, so don’t try to rush up the teaching and learning process. And while you teach him, he should be taught to sip slowly from his cup to avoid choking from fast water in-take and do this; you need patience as a parent.
- Remember to taste the water first before giving it to the baby. This practice will enable you to know if it is too cold or too hot for the baby.
A Sippy cup should not be used for too long. It should be a phase between sucking his mother’s breast and drinking from a regular cup, and by the time the baby gets to the age of one, the transition to a traditional cup should be complete.
Giving the Baby Water During Hot Weather
When the weather gets hot, you must keep your baby extra hydrated. For babies below six months, this implies feeding them with breast milk more often because, at that age, it is not good to give the baby water. And for babies up to six months and above, water is recommended as a supplement to breast milk.
A well-hydrated baby should wet 6 to 8 diapers daily. Anything below this requires that you seek your pediatrician’s help. The pediatrician will require to know if the baby has symptoms of diarrhea or if he is vomiting.
How to Know if Your Baby is Suffering from Dehydration?
Water plays an essential role in monitoring a baby’s wellness, and in its absence, your baby may develop dehydration symptoms. These signs below prove that your baby is maybe dehydrated.
- If your baby wets less than six diapers in a day, it could result from dehydration.
- If the baby fails to wet his diapers for more than 6 hours.
- If the baby’s mouth seems dry and his lip cracked.
- When your baby’s urine is dark yellow.
- If the baby produces just a few tears when he cries.
- If the baby’s skin looks dry and does not bounce back when pressed gently.
- If his eyes are sunk inside.
- When the soft spot on their head is sunken.
- When the baby looks unusually tired, pale, and sleepy.
- If their hands and feet are unusually cold.
- When the baby is extra fussy or unusually restless.
How to Prevent Dehydration?
1. Increase the baby’s liquid intake
2. Keep your baby away from the sun and try not to overheat when with a blanket when sleeping. Also, note that what they wear before sleeping should be breathable, the same as their cover.
Be careful to note when the baby is developing diarrhea symptoms when they have a sore throat, and vomiting because sometimes dehydration can be caused by illness.
3. Visit the baby’s doctor regularly for vaccination and immunization as these can help protect the baby from illness and reduce to extensive extent child mortality.
For babies below six months having diarrhea or is throwing up, you must make sure that the baby is fed with breast milk or formula as many times as possible. However, for babies above six months who have started the intake of solid foods, you should supply them with more water. Thus, giving him extra water would go a long way to prevent dehydration.
Encourage Your Baby to Take More Fluid
Babies may seemingly not show interest in consuming the appropriate amount of fluids required for his wellness. But you must bring up your skills here to encourage him to take enough fluid for his growth and development.
Colors and shapes interest the baby, and so if you use a colorful Sippy cup to attract the baby, you can increase his interest in taking enough liquids. Thereby making the baby wants to hydrate with ease and so much fun. You must encourage your baby to take in as much fluid as possible because of the vital role to keep the baby well and hydrated.
It may seem abnormal to you that your baby is not taking in water, just like adults. But as long as the baby is below six months, it is normal. Babies are not provided with water during the first few months of their life, because he gets all the water, he needs from the breast milk of baby formulas. So, you have to be patient enough as a parent and wait until the baby gets to six months before introducing him to water. When you start giving your baby water, you should also make sure that the water is neither too cold nor too hot, as that could be detrimental to the baby’s health.
Room temperature water is excellent, but you can give him lukewarm or slightly cold water too. Furthermore, it is also expected that you monitor your baby to know his reaction to water taking. It may be a little tricky to get a baby to drink water, but once he gets used to it, you wouldn’t need to encourage him anymore. Now your baby can take water and enjoy all the health benefits that come with it.