There’s nothing better to quench your thirst than a cold glass of ice water on these hot and humid summer days. So, it only makes sense that your little one would appreciate the same, right?
Wrong. Pediatricians strongly advise that parents never give their babies under 6 months any water. Breast milk or formula will give him all the hydration he needs, even in hot and humid weather.
“Babies’ kidneys aren’t mature and don’t maintain sodium like adults,” said Dr. Mark Evans, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Brecksville. “When babies drink too much water it dilutes the concentration of sodium in their body and causes an electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to seizures.”
It’s even more problematic in the summertime because hot weather can cause increased sodium loss in sweat, he said, so sodium levels in the body are already low.
What’s more, giving your baby water can interfere with his body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from breast milk or formula. Water also can make your baby’s tummy feel full so he may not eat a complete meal.
“We tell parents to think of the bottle as a replacement for the breast,” said Dr. Evans. “The only thing that should come out of it is breast milk or formula. When your baby’s old enough to drink out of a sippy cup and has started solid foods, only then can he sip on water.”
Your baby will get all the water he needs from breast milk or formula. However, if your baby is crying, fussy or showing other signs of hunger, it’s OK to add in an additional feeding. It will satisfy your baby’s thirst without putting him at risk.
In instances where your baby is sick with diarrhea or the stomach flu, contact your pediatrician. He may advise you to give your child an electrolyte drink, such as Pedialyte, to help prevent dehydration.