Offering Water to Six to 12 Month Old Babies
All their needs for water are satisfied through either breast or formula milk. Breast milk, in fact, is 88% water and the colostrums that come out before the breast milk is enough to keep the new born hydrated.
Giving water to babies less than six months old interferes with their body's ability to absorb the nutrients that they get from the milk. Giving them water, in the form of glucose-water, or even juice, can introduce them to contaminants and various allergens, which their stomachs may not be able to tolerate.
Sometimes, though, formula fed babies might need a little water during fever. However, do consult your paediatrician before doing so. Exclusively breast fed babies don't need even this.
It is only when the child turns six months old that you should begin giving them little sips of water. This is a good age to start, so that by the time they are a year old, they are used to the tastelessness of this liquid.
Generally kids of this age do not need more than five to 10 teaspoons of water in a day. You could increase that to around 15 to 20 teaspoons in hot weather or if they are very constipated.
Too much water can cause water intoxication, a condition where the excessive water in the body dilutes the concentration of sodium, thereby upsetting the electrolyte balance. This makes the tissues swell up. In extreme cases, it can even cause seizures and coma. It’s best to give them water from a sipping cup, rather than from a bottle to drink from. Too much of bottles can affect their teeth.
Never add extra water to their formula. It will unnecessarily bloat and fill up their small stomachs, without fulfilling their nutritional needs. This might even result in weight loss.
Here’s a note of caution. Babies' immune systems are still immature. Even little unhygienic conditions can lead to stomach infections in babies. Hence it’s best to boil water, which is boiling for at least a few minutes, before giving it to babies. Keep the utensil covered with a lid, while the water boils. If you must give them filtered water, then use filters with pore size of less than one micron, and those which use the process of reverse osmosis.
Once the baby is a year old, you can let him drink water whenever she is thirsty. However, even in the first year they get around 20% of their fluid requirement from foods. So don't begin to force down eight glasses of water down her throat. Keep milk, breast or formula, still as their primary beverage.