Water seems like a natural drink to give to your baby on a hot day, but there are important reasons why you should hold off until they reach the right age.

How old should my baby be when I introduce them to water?

The ideal age for introducing water to your baby’s diet is about 6 months old. You will notice this is around the time your baby starts to teethe and when you might be weaning them off breast milk and onto solid foods.

Why is water bad for young babies?

Water given to young babies can reduce their appetite for breast or formula milk. Since water has none of the nutritional properties of either of the latter, it is counterproductive to your baby’s growth and development.

When introduced to young babies, too much water can also induce what’s known as ‘water intoxication.’ This is a dilution of sodium in your baby’s kidneys that leads to electrolyte loss, swollen body tissue, seizures and even coma.

Water and formula

When mixed with formula to the manufacturer’s specifications, water poses no danger to your baby. Avoid trying to stretch the returns on your formula by diluting beyond the specified measurements; the precise amount of nutrients is present in correctly-used formula to counteract water’s negative side effects.

Is it ever ok to give a young baby water?

Only under medical advice from a doctor or paediatrician – and even then it will be in specified amounts. This is usually to counteract constipation or, combined with an age-appropriate electrolyte formula, to combat the effects of gastroenteritis.