The subject of giving water to infants is still controversial to this day. You can get lost in the amount of advice. Mothers have to choose between current knowledge and scientific research and the pressure of old-fashioned doctors and midwives, as well as the experiences of their own mothers, who recommend giving the baby something to drink — water, dill tea, water with glucose, etc., from the very first days. This article will bring you closer to this problem and give you some common sense.
When to Give Water to the Baby?
The ideal answer to the question, “When can babies drink water?” is: from the beginning of diet expansion. Therefore, the indicator of “water initiation” is the moment of starting to taste new foods. Since our goal is exclusively breastfeeding until the end of the 6th month of life, you will most likely give water around the age of 6 months. If you feed your baby with baby formula properly and on demand, there is no need to supplement your baby with water before expanding the diet.
There are two main reasons why you should start giving water to your infant at this time:
- Digestion of foods other than milk requires the body to consume an additional portion of water, which is why the demand for fluids slightly increases when expanding the diet.
- By offering water, you shape a positive habit of drinking water during a meal in your little one from the very beginning.
Of course, the first attempts to give water to a baby are just trying. The infant does not need to drink large amounts of water from the beginning. Just 1-2 sips are ok. Still, milk is the primary source of fluids. Therefore, from the beginning of expanding the diet, offer your baby water to drink during meals. If you see that it has not drunk anything or very little, you can offer some milk to wash it down. When the child eats slightly larger amounts of food (around 8-10 months), offer water between meals, as well.
When expanding the diet, constipation sometimes also appears, and unfortunately, it is often the result of slight dehydration. If your little one is constipated, offer it more water.
What Water to Give to the Baby?
Water for children up to the age of 3 should be low-mineralized, low-sulfate, and low-sodium water. Most spring waters meet these criteria, but you can also choose mineral water with a low degree of mineralization. You can check the degree of water mineralization on the label.
Bottled water does not need to be boiled. You give it to your child straight from the bottle or after pouring it into another container. After opening the bottle, the water should be drunk within approx. 48 hours. Besides, always make sure that the bottle is kept from sunlight.
Also, don’t be afraid to modify the temperature of the proposed liquid. The child can drink both warm and cold water, even that straight from the refrigerator. Some children prefer cold water or even ice cubes.
How Much Water to Give to the Baby?
The basis for thinking about the amount of water a child should drink is trust. We assume that just as our baby knows how much food it needs, it also knows how much water it needs. Besides, the water demand depends on many factors: activity during the day, temperature, humidity, food eaten, etc.
While learning to drink water, an infant can consume really small amounts of it because most of the liquid comes from milk. Just watch the older child. If the amount of fluids he drinks is small or he struggles with constipation, it is worth increasing this amount.