Q: Hello Doc, my baby is around 5 weeks now. From birth I have been feeding her formula and breast milk. Should I still be giving her water. If yes, should it be warm water.
A: Hi dear, congratulations on your new baby! She will be a blessing to her generation.
Now, if you’re a regular follower of this page, you will know that I am ‘almost’ fanatical about breastfeeding. You should be giving your breastfeeding only from birth to 6 months with no water at all. Breast milk contains all the required nutrients and sufficient water for your baby.
Having said that, if you’re giving your baby formula feeds, the same dictum also applies. You have to ensure that that you follow the instructions properly so that you don’t make feeds that are too thick (and likely to cause constipation) or make feeds that are too watery (and likely to deprive baby of needed nutrients).
There are very few times when you need to give baby extra water, other than her feeds. If she’s stooling, she will need to be rehydrated but please be guided by her doctor. Ensure that you have the ORS (Oral Rehydration Salt) sachets at home or at least learn how to make the Salt Sugar Solution as a first aid before going to the hospital. On rare occasions, it may get very hot or baby may be constipated and so you may feel water is needed. A teaspoon or two of boiled, room temperature water won’t hurt but it is important that as much as possible, you stay away from giving your baby water until she is 6 months…or worst case, 4 months. This is because water ‘occupies’ the place that the baby’s feed should occupy and so baby loses out on getting valuable nutrition. The second reason is that babies are susceptible to a condition known as acute water intoxication. In this situation, baby is given too much water leading to dilution of sodium (salt) level. This could lead to seizures, brain damage and even death. We don’t want that!
So, in summary, it is really best to delay giving baby water until she starts taking solid foods. However, wherever in doubt, please see your baby’s pediatrician.
Have a good evening, everyone 😀