Water plays an important role in the human body, helping in distributing minerals, glucose, vitamins as well as other important nutrients to the cells. However, the proportion of water a baby needs is different from that of adults. Since the time of their birth babies are given water in accordance to their requirement in limited amounts, that increases as they grow in age.
When do babies start drinking water
Babies should ideally not be given water till the time they are six months of age.
Can newborns drink water
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization along with other reputable institutions have strictly emphasized on giving the baby breast milk in the initial six months . Formula milk may be used as the only alternative if at all required.
In fact, breastfed babies do not need water at all as their mother’s milk, especially the one that comes out at first (foremilk) containing more than 80% water [2, 3], gives them the required hydration even in the summer months .
Small sips of cooled, boiled water may be given to formula fed babies during hot weathers  or if they are constipated, suffering from a certain illness  or having hiccups .
Make sure to use fresh tap water from the kitchen and boil it before giving it to babies below six months [4, 11, 18].
Possible problems related to infants drinking water
Lessened nutrient absorption: Giving an infant too much water may reduce his appetite, lessening his milk intake , depriving him of the essential nutrients present in breastmilk or formula.
Water intoxication: Excessive consumption of water may lead to water intoxication, a rarely occurred condition . The sodium levels in the baby’s body get diluted, affecting the electrolyte balance, also leading to swelling of tissues [1,5]. Water intoxication may have severe consequences, causing seizures, reduced body temperature , brain damage, coma and even death .
Possibilities of tooth decay: If you are giving your baby tap water, make sure that it does not have too much of fluoride. Although this compound helps in preventing tooth decay, using fluoridated water on a regular basis increases the risk of the formation of white streaks or markings on his teeth (mild enamel fluorosis symptom) .
How much water can you give your baby
Babies between six and twelve months of age need to be given small amounts of water in a bottle or sipper to make them acquainted with the taste of the new liquid. Two to four ounces of water in the beginning would be apt for them as they are transitioning from a liquid to a solid diet. The water intake may increase up to eight ounces during summer time or if they are constipated .
It is advisable not to dilute formula milk with water as it decreases the nutritious content, also increasing the risk of water intoxication [1,4].
How much water should a toddler drink
As per the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water, the AI (Adequate Intake) of water needed for kids between one and three years of age is 1.3 liters on a daily basis. Apart from plain drinking water, their requirement will also be met from their intake of milk (about 350 ml per day), fruit juice, juicy fruits like watermelon, soup, cooked grain, and vegetables. You should keep a watch on the wet diapers and urine color to check if they are getting sufficient water or not. If their urine appears concentrated or is yellow in color it indicates that your kid is not drinking a proper amount of water .
Is it safe for babies to drink:
Bottled water: It is not advisable to give bottled water to your baby because of its high sulfur and sodium content. However, if you need to give it, make sure that one liter of water contains less than 250 milligrams of sulfate and 200 milligrams of sodium . Boiling it is also recommended. Prefer using bottled water low on fluorides labeled as distilled, demineralized, purified or deionized .
Spring water: Have the water supply of your borehole, spring or well checked to ensure that it is free of nitrates [11, 17].
Gripe water: It is a common remedy for treating flatulence, colic and stomach problems as well as relieving pain during teething by most pediatricians. However, brands of gripe water containing sodium bicarbonate or vegetable carbon may affect the stomach or lead to black stool respectively .
Sugar water: Studies have shown that giving sugar water to infants prior to an immunization may reduce the amount of pain experienced, helping them to calm down easily . But, it is not safe to give sugar water to babies for sich purpose home .
Coconut water: Coconut water, having a high nutritional value because of its chlorides, electrolytes, magnesium, sodium, protein, and sugar content is a good summer drink for toddlers in comparison to the aerated drinks and packaged juices .
Juice: Babies can drink juice after they are six months old in its diluted form with one part juice in ten parts of water. The risk of tooth decay is lessened when fruit juice is provided alongside meals. Children above five years can be given undiluted juice that should be restricted to 150 ml a day .
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