When can babies drink water?

FAQ: When Can Babies Drink Water?

February 28, 2020
3 min read

Water is something that everyone needs to drink, right? Well, it turns out that babies get all the hydration they need from breast milk or formula in the first several months.

Find out when it’s OK to start giving your baby water, and why it’s important not to give your baby water until he’s started on solids. Plus, get some answers to some frequently asked questions about safely giving your baby water when the time comes.

What's in this article:

At What Age Is It OK to Give Your Baby Water? Why Shouldn’t You Give Water to Your Baby Under 6 Months? How and When Do You Introduce Water to Your Baby? Is It OK to Mix Formula With Water? Does Tap Water Need to Be Boiled for Babies? Should You Give Water to a Dehydrated Baby? Should You Give Your Breastfeeding Baby Water on Hot Days? What Is Water Intoxication in Babies?

At What Age Is It OK to Give Your Baby Water?

Water is not recommended for your baby in his first six months. Until your little one is eating solid food, your baby will get all the water he needs from breast milk (which is actually 80 percent water) or formula. After your baby turns 6 months old, you can start offering a little water.

Why Shouldn’t You Give Water to Your Baby Under 6 Months?

For babies under 6 months, drinking water can lead to diarrhea and even malnutrition.

With breastfed babies, the introduction of water can cause the baby to breastfeed less or stop entirely, leading to malnutrition. Less frequent nursing can, in turn, result in a reduction in breast milk supply as well.

How and When Do You Introduce Water to Your Baby?

The best way to introduce water to your baby (who is 6 months or older) is to give her a small amount in a sippy cup. Don’t force her to drink the water if she rejects it.

Your baby’s need for liquids will increase when she starts eating solid foods.

This is why the time when you start giving solids is also a good time to slowly introduce water. Gradually giving your little one water also gives her a chance to get used to water’s plain flavor.

Drinking water will also help your child develop healthy habits. Giving your baby juice is not recommended, as it can cause her to crave sweetened drinks, which can lead to her becoming overweight or obese later on.

Is It OK to Mix Formula With Water?

It’s OK to mix powdered formula with water. Just be careful to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how much water to add.

What's dangerous is adding extra water to the formula. Diluting formula or giving your baby water in addition to formula can lead to a condition called water intoxication.

Diluting infant formula beyond the manufacturer’s directions reduces the nutrients your baby is getting. This can lead to slowed development, electrolyte imbalances, and possibly seizures.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions when mixing infant formula, and check out these formula feeding guidelines.

Does Tap Water Need to Be Boiled for Babies?

Some tap water might not be clean enough for your baby. Check with your local health department if you’re unsure about the quality of the tap water in your home.

If the water isn’t safe, you could use bottled water instead, or boil the tap water for mixing with infant formula or for giving your baby once he’s over 6 months old.

To boil tap water, bring cold water to a boil for 1 minute. Then set it aside to cool to room temperature for about 30 minutes before using it. It’s a good idea to test the water on your wrist to ensure it’s at room temperature before giving it to your baby.

Should You Give Water to a Dehydrated Baby?

Your baby may become dehydrated if she has a fever, is vomiting, has diarrhea, or for certain other reasons.

Some signs of dehydration may include

  • a dry mouth
  • fewer wet diapers
  • fussiness
  • sleepiness
  • a soft spot on the head.

If you suspect your little one may be dehydrated, do not give your baby water. The best fluid to keep your baby properly hydrated is breast milk or formula.

Contact your baby’s healthcare provider right away if you suspect your little one may be dehydrated. Your provider may suggest a rehydration solution, drops, vitamins or minerals in syrup form, or medicine to hydrate your little one.

Should You Give Your Breastfeeding Baby Water on Hot Days?

Your baby does not need water before the age of 6 months even if it’s a hot day and/or you live in a hot climate. The best option will be to keep your baby hydrated with your breast milk or formula.

What Is Water Intoxication in Babies?

Water intoxication, also called hyponatremia, is a condition in which the sodium level in the blood becomes abnormally low. Drinking too much water can cause this condition.

A baby who is given water under the age of 6 months may be at risk for this condition.

Symptoms of hyponatremia can include

  • nausea/vomiting
  • headache
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • irritability
  • seizures.

Water intoxication requires emergency medical attention, and treatment may include intravenous electrolytes or medications. Contact your baby’s healthcare provider if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, or if you have any concerns about water intoxication.

Even though giving your baby water may seem harmless, it’s not recommended until your little one is 6 months old. Your baby is getting all the nutrients and hydration she needs from breast milk or formula.

With all those feedings, you’ll also be doing lots of diaper changes. To make the task a bit more rewarding, download the Pampers Club app to earn points on your Pampers purchases that you can use to get gifts for you and your baby.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

See all sources
All sources links

WHO: Breastfeeding

Healthy Children: How to safely prepare formula

Mayo Clinic: Hyponatremia

Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?

Book: Caring for your baby and young child birth to age 5, Sixth Edition Paperback – November 2, 2014 by American Academy of Pediatrics (Author)

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