Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Baby Water
As adults, we can’t get enough water to stay hydrated but it's a different story for newborn babies, who shouldn’t be given any water at all until they’re six months old.
There are a number of different reasons for this. Primarily, newborn babies’ tiny bodies aren't developed enough to consume even a few ounces of water. Here’s why: Babies are 75% made up of water (compared with about 55% in adults). This means that even the smallest addition of water could prove too much for their little kidneys, which in extreme cases can be fatal. Too much water in the body means that excess water will back up into the bloodstream and eventually reach the brain causing Hyponatremia or water intoxication which can lead to seizures.
What’s more is that babies’ kidneys aren't developed enough to properly filter water. This means that any water they drink ends up in the circulatory system, where it dilutes their blood. But it’s not just water that can be dangerous: a lot of times Hyponatremia in infants is caused by parents putting too much water in formula, diluting this too much. So it’s really important to always follow the instructions.
The good news is that babies don’t actually need to drink water because they don't need the extra hydration. In fact breastmilk and early baby food formula provide exactly the right amounts of hydration – even in hot climates.
It's important that if your baby is showing signs of water intoxication that you take them to the hospital immediately, where a doctor will likely provide some form of fluids, like intravenous saline solution, to bring the infant's sodium levels up to normal.