Just like older people, babies feel thirsty too - BUT, before you take your water bottle out, let me tell you that a 6-month old infant does not need to drink water, especially when s/he is being breastfed.
As a matter of fact, doctors around the world are against making newborns drink water, because it increases the risk of diarrhea and malnutrition in them. They might also run the risk of water intoxication. All the necessary water and nutrition that babies need is complete with the mother’s milk.
Why do newborn babies not need water?
Breastmilk actually contains a large amount of water - in fact, 80% of the milk is water. This is exactly why breastfeeding is the best way to quench the infant’s thirst. There are also many antibodies found in breastmilk that keep your baby away from infections and also strengthen its immune system. Unfortunately, there are no proteins, carbohydrate, vitamins, enzymes or antibodies found in water, which are found in breastmilk and formula milk. Feeding infants just water becomes useless when breastmilk is more than enough.
Why wait for 6 months for the baby to drink water?
Breastfeeding children are not required to drink water until they start eating something. After 6 months, when children are allowed to eat solid food, only then is it okay to drink water.
What about during summers, when it’s really hot?
The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly advises against feeding drinking water to newborn babies under 6 months of age, because the risk that the baby might catch an infection or diarrhea is too high. The infant might also get malnutritioned. Be very careful and ensure that even in the summer, you don’t feed water to your baby. But if your child is being fed formula milk and s/he gets very sweaty, you can give them a few gulps of water. But as much as is possible, try to feed your baby either breastmilk or formula.
Harmful effects of drinking water on newborns
Diarrhea: The biggest reason to not feed water to newborns is to keep them away from infections. If the water or the vessel in which water is being given is even slightly dirty, then the baby runs a high risk of diarrhea.
Malnutrition: You might be 100% sure about the safety of your water, but it can still harm your child. Why? Because the water you give them will fill their tiny tummies completely and hence, they won’t be able to drink breastmilk or formula milk properly. After starting to drinking water, some babies might quit drinking milk before the right time.
Decrease in your breastmilk: This is a different problem that arises due to your child drinking lesser breastmilk. Your body will also start producing small amounts of milk and hence, the child is at risk of malnutrition.
Habitual drinking water
Always use boiled water to make formula milk for children younger than 6 months.
If you are absolutely sure that the water is not dirty, then there is no need to give boiled water to the children above 6 months.
Do not make your child drink water from outside. In the bottled water found outdoors, heavy quantities of sodium and sulfate are found, which is not suitable for the child's health.
Keep these things in mind and try to feed water to your child after the age of 6 months. Make sure you share this blog with other women and educate them too!