Whether you’re expecting or in those early, blurry first days of parenthood, you will have most likely come across a wealth of baby-related information.
Feeding babies, weaning babies, sleep-training your baby, all those milestones, all the things to avoid, all the individual expert opinions.
Now a new risk has been highlighted – and it concerns giving your baby water.
Water may seem like a harmless (healthy, even) drink. After all, the importance of adults drinking enough is well known and frequently broadcast.
But consumed by infants, it could cause water intoxication, which in turn can lead to seizures, and being in a coma – it can even prove to be fatal.
So what is and isn’t advised when it comes to giving our babies water?
Do they actually need it?
The general consensus is babies should only be given milk until they’re at least six months old, after which a sip of water here and there has been deemed safe.
However, as Katie Zeratsky, a dietitian at the Mayo Clinic told Buzzfeed, up until the age of one, babies can live without water.
This, she explains, is because “they get all of their fluid needs through human milk or infant formula. Even on a hot day they can get all of their hydration needs through human milk or formula.”
As a rule, NOT giving your baby water is particularly important to adhere to before they’re six months old. Breastmilk or formula only.
Why is it dangerous?
Parents are advised against giving babies water because of the breastmilk and formula contain the nutrients they need, such as protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fat.
By filling up on water, they miss out on the vital nutrition components they need to grow.
For this reason, it’s important to mix formula correctly.
And babies grow rapidly, meaning their needs, energy-wise, are much higher then ours. Water cannot fulfil these needs, though it will fill up your baby.
Can water intoxication prove to be fatal?
Yes, is the answer to this according to Katie.
“Water intoxication is where you consume too much water in a short period of time and your blood level of sodium drops…making a tragic situation,” she tells Buzzfeed.
“In the adult world, you would have to push yourself past thirst and regulation to a point where you almost have to force intake.
“In terms of a baby, in most cases they would get too full to do this, so it would be more challenging to create this situation in an infant. It’s not impossible, though.”