In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Answering the Question: Should an Infant (six months or younger) drink water?

A recent news article on warned parents that "babies younger than six months old should never be given water to drink." This was the recommendation of a pediatric emergency physician at Johns Hopkins.

The physician warned that babies' kidneys aren't yet mature, and so consuming too much water can put babies at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication. Infants should be drinking breast milk or formula, according to the physician.

What tripped me up in this news article was the word never. So, I broached the topic with a family physican, who just so happens to be my husband. Here's his take on the issue:

1. Infants should be given breast milk (ideally) or formula as their main source of both fluids and nutrients.
2. In some rare instances, infants given formula and/or baby foods, may need a small amount extra water in their diet. A small amount = 2 or less ounces a day. This is to avoid constipation. If you are concerned about constipation, contact your baby's doctor.
3. Excessive dilution of formula (or expressed breast milk) with water to stretch your budget is very dangerous. Infants need the full nutritional benefit of whole-strength breast milk or formula.
4. The key to being safe about your infant's water intake is to consult your medical provider if you use fluids (including juices) other than breast milk or formula.

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