Moms know how critical it is for them to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. When you get dehydrated, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Feeling terribly thirsty
- Having a dry mouth
- Feeling tired
- Having dry skin
- Urinating less and urine tends to be dark and concentrated.
Nonetheless, studies suggest that as many as 75 percent of adults suffer from chronic dehydration.
This constant, low-level dehydration has an adverse effect on the body and the brain, which suggests that it's critical for parents to be mindful of how much water they intake so that they can be present and aware for their little ones.
Proper hydration is even more critical for babies. A baby who is dehydrated may exhibit signs such as:
- A dry tongue and mouth
- Dry diapers for three or more hours
- Crying without tears
- Being uncharacteristically sleepy
- Sunken eyes
All of these symptoms can be alarming for parents to witness, which is why it's so vital to ensure that babies and young children get an adequate amount of hydration.
How much is enough? When should you introduce water to your baby?
Below, you'll find the answers to these questions and more.
Do Breastfed Babies Need Water?
Breast milk consists of 88% water. This means that your baby is getting all of the water that is required simply by feeding. Even before mom's milk "comes in" during the days immediately following birth, colostrum provides all of the necessary hydration that infants require.
Similarly, babies who are being fed with formula generally do not need any kind of water supplementation.
Additional water typically is not required by breastfed or formula-fed babies even when temperatures soar in the hottest summers. If your baby is allowed to feed whenever he or she likes, then your baby will enjoy adequate hydration.
Of course, this presumes that your baby is not having issues with breastfeeding and is able to obtain an adequate supply of breast milk. Consider finding a lactation consultant to help if you're concerned that your baby isn't getting as much breast milk as needed.
According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, supplementing an infant's diet with extra water may make the baby less likely to want to feed frequently enough. In fact, the Academy warns that giving water or glucose water to an infant may make it more likely for a baby to experience excessive weight loss and jaundice.
Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that supplements such as water, formula, glucose water, and others should not be introduced into newborn's diets who are breastfeeding. The only exception is when such supplementation is recommended by a doctor.
The Academy goes on to describe that supplementing with water actually "may introduce contaminants and allergens" that could be harmful to your baby.
Water Supplements Are Risky for Newborns
In general, it is not recommended that babies under the age of two months be given supplemental water. This is because supplementing with water at this age shows a high risk of jaundice, weight loss, and the need for hospital stays.
This can become especially dangerous if infants take in an excessive amount of water. A condition known as oral water intoxication may ensue. With symptoms such as seizures and brain damage, this condition comes about when a baby's normal sodium levels are thrown off-balance by additional water consumption.
Even if such a serious condition never arises, it is worth noting that giving an infant water makes them feel full, which means that they are less likely to nurse enough. This means that they may lose weight or show insufficient weight gain.
Remember, water does not contain the nutrition and calories that are present in breast milk. This means that if your baby fills up on water, he or she will not get the essential nutrients needed to grow healthy and strong.
When Is It Safe to Give a Baby Water?
Most pediatricians agree that it is acceptable to introduce your baby to water at around six months of age. Ideally, the water is contained in a sippy cup, giving the baby an opportunity to learn to use a cup and get used to drinking water at the same time. Consult with your pediatrician to find out what they recommend.
How Much Water Is Enough for a Baby?
General guidelines suggest that between two and eight ounces of water each day is appropriate for most babies. This amount is in addition to the water that your baby gets from formula or breast milk. If you simply allow your baby to sip water from their cup throughout the day, they will probably get everything that they need.
When your baby is six months or a little older, it is generally all right to let her drink as much water as she wants. She's probably transitioning to some solid foods while still enjoying formula or breast milk. With the introduction of some solid foods, it becomes necessary to drink a little more water to maintain adequate hydration.
Around the age of one, many pediatricians suggest aiming for four eight-ounce servings of water per day. This is because your baby is probably relying even more heavily on solid foods, leading to a greater need for water supplementation.
What Kind of Water Is Appropriate to Give a Baby?
In general, ordinary tap water is recommended for babies. Most water municipalities in North America provide clean, fresh, and healthy drinking water. All you have to do is turn on the tap. Of course, any bottled or filter water is perfectly fine as well.
What Kind of Cup Should Be Used for Drinking Water?
Babies definitely have their own preferences, so it may be necessary to try more than one type of cup before you find the perfect one. A cup with removable handles is an excellent choice. The handles are easy for your baby to grip when he's just learning, and because the handles can be removed, it can transition with him as he gets older.
Many of these cups are equipped with a soft straw or spout. These are designed to not allow spills, which is critical for you as you definitely don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning up spilled liquids.
If possible, consider getting a cup that has a removable valve. This once again allows your baby's favorite cup to grow with him. When the valve is removed, your baby is able to learn about free-flow drinking that doesn't require him to suck. Because this type of drinking requires different muscles, it's excellent for your baby's oral development.
Remember, Hydration Is Important for You and Your Baby!
Whenever you are dehydrated, you are not at your best. You may feel tired and irritable, and you may even notice that your thinking is more than a little fuzzy. Considering that you also may be dealing with sleep deprivation because of late nights with your baby, it becomes clear that proper hydration is critical for new moms.
Also consider that your baby is obtaining every bit of her hydration from your breast milk. If you aren't sufficiently hydrated, then this may affect your body's ability to produce milk. Dehydration can be even more serious for your baby than it is for you, so make certain that you're getting plenty of water.
When your baby is around six months, it's time to start introducing some water in a sippy cup. This usually occurs around the time that you're beginning to introduce solid foods to your baby, so it's an excellent chance to get him or her used to water as well.
Remember, good hydration promotes good health!