“What Kind Of Water Should Babies Drink?” Well, this, I think has been a question that has troubled moms since eons and it has been no exception with me. So it was only natural that I would pour through everything available everywhere to reach to the conclusion below.
With so many options like tap, bottled, spring, well and distilled water available, the choice is entirely yours as all of these have their pros and cons. But the safest water for the babies is definitely the distilled variety as it has been vaporized and condensed back to liquid form eliminating the risk of any contamination.
Since distilled water first undergoes evaporation and then condensation all its initial impurities are taken out by the process. The condensed water is collected into a sterile reservoir. However, distilled water has no taste of its own as it is devoid of any minerals.
The thumb rule is that an infant does not require water until she is six months old. Till this age, breast milk is the best option. A breastfed child does not need additional water as breast milk is almost 80 % water. Bottle-fed babies also get their hydration from the formula. So if your child is feeding properly, plain water is a total no-no. Once she attains the age of six months, she can be given water.
Infants get their necessary hydration from breast milk or formula itself. This is true for all weather conditions, even hot and humid. Rather if they are fed with plain water, it may reduce their appetite as this extra water would fill up their small tummies. This would, in turn, cause weight loss.
Also, the additional water interferes with the nourishment by hindering the proper absorption of the nutrients present in the breast milk/formula. Now, you would not like that to happen to your newborn, right?
Another major issue is oral water intoxication. Till a baby is six months old, her kidneys are not ready to filter plain water. So the child might fall prey to water intoxication which will affect her growth, development, and health adversely. Also, an electrolyte imbalance may occur in her body which is again not advisable.
Babies feeding on the water will lack interest in nursing and this may result in a delay for the mother’s milk to come out and can also lead to a fall in her milk supply.
If the baby is feeding properly and gaining adequate weight, she is getting enough hydration. The problem arises when she falls sick – say cold, flu or some stomach ailment.
Best way to know is to keep a count of her wet and dirty diapers when she is sick. If the numbers decrease or she becomes less active or you find the soft top on her head sunk, it is time to visit the pediatrician. But do not feed her water. Till you go to the doctor keep on breastfeeding her more often.
According to experts, it is not a wise decision to give water to your infant even when she is sick as this may fill them up too much leaving less scope for nutrient absorption. Only do so if your doctor advises you.
It is safe to give water to babies once they are six months old. At this age, they are ready to be fed solids too. Once the child is introduced to solids, her milk intake reduces. So, water in small quantities is necessary to provide the lost hydration.
Moreover, now her kidneys are mature enough to cleanse the water thereby reducing the chances of water intoxication.
But you should not stop feeding breast milk or formula at this stage. And the quantity of water intake will increase with increase in the child’s activities. Also, the kind of solids being fed and the frequency of feeding such solids play a key role in the optimum quantity of water to be fed.
But always prefer plain water and see to it that the child develops a taste for it. Only then will she grow up liking plain water and you will be saved from the trouble of trying to teach her the benefits of drinking water.
There is no thumb rule. It can be bottles, sippy cups, small sips, normal cups or even straws. But whatever be the means, the amount should be little, bit by bit. Your focus should be getting her used to drinking water rather than the amount of water intake. She should start liking the taste of water.
You may consider cups with handles. The handles may be removable and the cup might have a straw or a small spout. Some cups have non-spill valves and these make drinking easy for your baby as the valve will aid free-flow. So your baby will be saved from the trouble of sucking.
Sippy cups are great. Use them without lids at first. Just add a small amount of water to the cup and bring it to her mouth. Once she realizes that it contains water, put the lid on and she will no longer behave like a novice.
Bottles are also good and moreover, the bottle caps can be used as cups. So your baby learns to sip as he goes on sucking.
This is the stage of transition from bottles to cups. There would be a few hiccups, but don’t worry. Soon both of you will start feeling more comfortable feeding and being fed from cups.
This is so because even if you are breastfeeding the child still now, you need to introduce her to cow or goat milk. And with the introduction of such full-fat milk, feeding water in small proportions becomes a necessity.
The water intake also increases with the requirement usually hovering around a few ounces each day. But be careful to feed water only between meals and offer whole milk at mealtime.
Once the child reaches her first birthday, her milk intake will come down. She will at the maximum drink 16 ounces every day. Further, now she will have to be introduced to a meal routine and also to various kinds of food. For all these reasons and due to her increased activity, her water intake is bound to escalate. Moreover, with solid food, comes the chance of developing constipation. Water in correct proportion will tackle this problem and the child will have proper bowel movements.
6 to 12 months: 2 to 4 ounces of water daily
1-year-old: 8-ounce of water every day
This amount of water will increase every year. With every added year, there will be an increase of 8 ounces, i.e. a 2-year-old will need 16 ounces while a 3-year-old, 24 ounces.
The answer to this depends on the response of the local health department. If they say that the water supply is safe enough for drinking, you can always try. But make sure that you boil it properly before using it to prepare your baby’s formula. Tap water is especially helpful when your child starts teething as this is the time she will need fluoride and that is not present in bottled water but only in tap water as the public water supply adds this mineral.
Bottled water is not in the least safe for babies to drink or for preparing formula. This is because often this water is not germ-free. Also it may contain excess sulfate or sodium.
If for any reason using bottled water is the only alternative, be sure it contains less than 200 mg and 250 mg of sodium (Na) and sulfate (SO4) respectively in a liter. Also, sterilize it by boiling it to make it germ-free.
Spring water has the benefit of containing all the naturally occurring minerals and is thereby tasty and good for drinking. But, at times, it can become an overdose of minerals. Also, the fear of contaminants remains.
In case of well water, it requires testing in a laboratory to know its contents. It may contain minerals that will not be removed just by boiling and will be harmful to your infant.
Perhaps the best option is distilled water for infant formula mixing as it is entirely free of all contaminants and you don’t need to boil it before preparation. Also, if you are concerned with fluorosis, you may use a formula containing fluoride and mix it with distilled water. But it will definitely lack in taste and certain necessary minerals. So you may shift from distilled water once your baby becomes one year old.
Start by mixing condensed or powdered formula with water. The kind of water you use is entirely your choice but if your baby is teething, then she might be in need of some extra fluoride.
Tap water contains fluoride and so if you are preparing the formula with tap water, the need of the baby is fulfilled.
But if you are using bottled water, make sure it contains added fluoride. Fluoride is the mineral that will help your child fight tooth decay. The concern of fluoride remains with distilled water too. But again beware of fluorosis.
Boil the water at a temperature of 70 C, then, cool it to body temperature before adding it to the formula. You can stop this boiling part once your child becomes a year old or if you are using distilled water. And the amount of water you add should be in accordance with the instructions inscribed on the package – you must follow it in entirety.
It will lead to inadequate absorption of nutrients present in the formula. The result is weight loss. It may cause water intoxication and that is pretty dangerous. An imbalance in the electrolyte present in the child’s body may happen, leading to seizures. So it is always advisable to mix water according to the instructions laid down in the package.
As children are not able to regulate their body temperature as easily as us adults, proper hydration is an absolute necessity for them. The norm for providing this hydration will vary from child to child. For some, they will drink their fill if they have access without any effort on your part. But with some others, it will not be that smooth.
For the second group, you will have to provide them with a small amount of water throughout the day. This will not reduce their food intake.
You may also try a diluted fruit juice instead of water. You can also try fun-shaped straws or colorful cups which will attract the little one towards water. One other way is to include water-rich foods like fruits and soups in their diet.
Hope this article has answered all your question regarding what kind of water should babies drink. But remember, mother’s milk is best for babies till the baby reaches six months. No water can substitute mother’s milk until this age.