Feeding Cold Water to Babies

Giving cold water to your baby is a controversial, but exciting dietary stepping stone in your child's life. However, before you introduce cold water to your baby's diet, is it imperative to consider many issues, such as safety and timing. Because water sometimes poses a safety hazard, you must use caution.

A mother feeds her baby water from a bottle. (Image: oksun70/iStock/Getty Images)

When to Start and Benefits

At about 4 to 6 months of age it is safe to start giving your baby cold water to drink. Although it is important to continue feeding him formula or breast milk until he is at least 1 year old, giving him about 4 oz. of water in a sippy cup or regular cup is good practice for learning how to drink without a bottle. Water also helps your baby cool down when the temperature is elevated and helps to pacify him during immunizations.

Considerations

Only give your baby sips of cold water at a time when she is thirsty. Giving her too much water will make her feel full and prevent her from drinking the milk she needs to grow and thrive. Too much water also leads to tummy aches. After your baby is a year old, it is safe to give her as much water as she wants, as long as she drinks at least 16 ounces of whole milk every day as well.

Tips

Talk to your child's pediatrician before you introduce water, especially if your baby has any medical problems or dietary issues. Do not flavor the water with sugar, which adds unhealthy calories, promotes obesity and leads to tooth decay. If you want to add sweetness, mix in a bit of fruit juice, but give your child less than 4 oz. of sweetened water a day.

Dangers

Introducing your baby to water too soon can be harmful. The kidney's of babies under 4 months old can't properly handle water and salt, which sometimes dilutes your baby's blood and leads to medical conditions such as hyponatremia. Water also prevents your baby from properly absorbing the nutrients in formula or breast milk. In severe cases, water intoxication can occur, where the electrolytes become imbalanced in your baby's body, leading to swelling, seizures and sometimes a coma.

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