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When can I give my baby water?

As we are heading into summer, one of the common questions we get asked is if you need to give your babies additional water to keep them hydrated during the warmer months.

If your baby is under 6 months of age the answer is no! You do not need to give your baby water to keep them hydrated. They will be getting all the hydration and nutrients they need through your breastmilk or from their formula.

Babies have a very small stomach capacity, from around 5ml when they are born to around 150ml at 6 months old. So we do not want to be filling that little tummy with excess water which is less beneficial to the baby than breastmilk or formula as it does not contain any calories. Their milk will have all the water, minerals, fats, and vitamins they need and this is crucial for their development.

For those of you that are breastfeeding, your breastmilk is made up of around 87% water! Your baby may even demand to be fed more frequently from your breast during hotter days to ensure they are keeping themselves hydrated. For those babies that are formula-fed, it is made predominantly from water therefore you do not need to dilute your baby’s formula with additional water as this will affect the nutritional value, which will then affect your baby’s weight gain and development. For a weight gain guide, click here.

Giving a baby under 6 months of age water can even be dangerous. Babies have immature kidneys so are not able to process large amounts of water. Excess water can enter their bloodstream and dilute their important electrolytes such as salt. This then leads to hyponatremia, which can cause brain swelling in their underdeveloped brains.

From 6 months old it is okay to start introducing small amounts of water, this can be offered alongside the introduction of solid foods but their main source of hydration will still be from their breastmilk or formula. So remember, keep yourselves hydrated with water during summer and keep your baby hydrated through their milk!
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