With the arrival of summer and high temperatures, one of the main tasks of parents is to ensure that their baby does not become dehydrated. Drinking water is essential. And not just for the little ones in the house. Parents, elders, teenagers and children should have water as their main drink, leaving bottled soft drinks or juices aside.
But when does a baby start drinking water? This is one of the questions most often asked by parents as the child turns months. For this, it is essential to understand what food is like during the first year of life.
Until 4 months of age, a baby feeds exclusively on milk . Regardless of whether the mother chooses to breastfeed or bottle , either of these two options are valid because they offer the child the necessary nutrients for his development.
From 5 months of age, the diet changes slightly. Milk is still their staple food. And at this time, the changes vary depending on whether you breastfeed or not. As they point out from the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (AEPAP), “complementary feeding will start around 5-6 months”, but babies exclusively breastfed can start with the introduction of food once they comply 6 months. However, bottle feeding starts at 5 months.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of the danger of giving water to the baby before it reaches the required age. The reason is that they are put “at risk of diarrhea and malnutrition” since “the water may be contaminated and cause infections.”
In addition, the agency adds that giving water to a newborn “can cause the baby to consume less breast milk or discontinue breastfeeding” prematurely “and, consequently, become malnourished.” Even mothers “could decrease their production.”
The milk is mainly composed of water (80%). That is why, even if it is summer and the newborn is thirsty or very hot, breastfeeding is enough because it receives the necessary liquid to avoid dehydration, in turn protecting it from possible diarrhea.
Babies don’t need extra water, even in hot weather. This is one of the reasons why the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, “recalls the body.
The Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) is also situated in the same situation: «Babies who breastfeed do not need any other liquid, or water, or infusions. Not even in the hot months.
How to give it water?
It is, therefore, from the fifth or sixth month of the baby’s life when he can start drinking water. “If the baby is more than 6 months old and already eats other foods, after breastfeeding, water can be offered from time to time,” explains the AEP, who recalls that if breastfeeding is offered before the porridge or purees, it is very likely that you do not want it because you do not need it. This will gradually change as the little one eats more solid food.
Another of the doubts that plague parents is how to give water: bottle? Cup? “Babies fed at the breast do not need to use teats,” says the AEP, which ensures that any baby from 6 months is able to drink in a glass or cup . That is, it does not have to go directly to the bottle.
“It is not advisable to offer water directly from a bottle, even a small one, to avoid infections and diarrhea,” he says.
And, of course, you should avoid sugary drinks like juices or infusions.