Big girls like me need to drink water in order to stay hydrated. I make sure to drink some water every day. I also drink whole cow’s milk every day. Some days I even get a bit of juice. I like juice a lot. Juice is my favourite because It’s a bit of a treat.
I have a lot of beverage options these days but there was a time when mommy would only let me drink breast milk or formula. It was once common practice to give infants water but now we know better. Not only is it unnecessary, it can even be harmful to give a little baby water.
Both breast milk and formula contain enough water to keep an infant fully hydrated in just about every climate. In fact, breast milk is made up of 80%-90% water and anyone who has ever prepared a bottle of formula knows that the main ingredient is water. Any infant that is feeding well on an all liquid diet does not need any more water.
Introducing water too early can have several negative consequences. Water takes up space in the tummy. Little babies have very limited tummy space to begin with. If they fill up on water they won’t have space for breast milk or formula on which they rely for all their nutritional needs.
Along with lacking the necessary nutrients, water also lacks calories. Babies need calories to grow. Water can quickly fill up a small tummy and suppress appetite. Introducing water too early can interfere with normal growth and cause slow weight gain or even weight loss.
Water is not very effective at lowering Bilirubin levels. Therefore newborns who are given water are at greater risk of jaundice. This can result in the need for treatment under specialized lamps. Newborns that are given water tend to need a longer hospital stay.
In extreme cases, babies can develop a serious condition called water intoxication. In this case, the water affects normal sodium levels. The effects of water intoxication can be quite severe including seizures, coma, brain damage, and death.
As long as a baby is on an all liquid diet they will not need additional water. Once solid foods are introduced to the menu, water should be introduced slowly. The only time water may be necessary earlier is in cases of severe illness where much fluid is lost. In this case a doctor would probably recommend that a bit of water be given to the baby.
When a baby begins to eat solid foods, small sips of water should be offered. The first foods generally contain quite a bit of fluid and dehydration is still unlikely in these early stages. However it is good to offer small amounts of water with meals as a precaution, introduction to the new routine, and to prevent constipation.
The amount of water offered should gradually be increased. This is especially true as the baby begins to eat food that contains less moisture. A baby is ready for unlimited water at around a year old. At this point water should be available throughout the day.
There is no need to force a baby to drink water. We know when we are thirsty. We’re just too little to get our own water so make sure you give us the option to drink frequently and only give us fresh and clean water.
My mommy has shown me how to use a sippy cup that I can drink from all by myself. It is always available to me during the day so I can decide when and how much water I drink. I like my sippy cup and the independence it gives me. I am a big girl after all and I don’t need help to drink my water.