Here’s why you should think twice about giving water to your newborn.

By Alan Greene, MD, FAAP and Parents.com Team

In the first few months of life, your baby’s diet consists entirely of breast milk or formula. But is this enough to parch his thirst? When can babies have water? We’ve answered your most pressing questions.

When Can Babies Have Water?

It's best not to give your baby water before 6 months. At this newborn stage, breast milk or formula meets every nutritional need for health and development. Plus, you don't want to fill up your baby on water, since she might not be hungry for feedings. This decrease in appetite may leave her malnourished, potentially leading to weight loss. It may also cause your breast milk supply to diminish. Never dilute formula with water, and always consult a doctor before introducing water into your baby's diet.

Water Intoxication in Babies

Another reason pediatricians are cautious about water: It's very easy to overload your baby. Giving a baby too much water too fast can cause her kidneys to flush out sodium and electrolytes, leaving her salt-depleted. In serious cases, this can trigger seizures. Symptoms of water intoxication in babies include low body temperature (below 97 degrees), drowsiness, irritability, and swelling.

Exceptions to the Rule

Even on a hot day, most babies don't need water – breast milk or formula is enough to keep them hydrated. However, if your baby is constipated, your pediatrician may suggest giving her 2 ounces of water a day to get her back on track. After your child turns 1, she can start sipping water more regularly.

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