Q&A: When Can Babies Start To Drink Water?

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Question & Answer

There are a precious few months at the start of a baby’s life when they need nothing but breastmilk or formula. But as a whole new world of solid food opens up to tiny tummies, so does the chance to sip on water.

It’s really important to remember that for the first six months of their lives, babies don’t need to drink water. They only need breastmilk or formula. But after they reach the all-important half-year milestone, sips of water can be introduced, if it’s needed.

Here’s what you need to know about when babies can start drinking water.

When can babies drink water?

Babies are born with a thirst reflex – they want to drink. But the only fluid they should be drinking is breastmilk or formula for the first six months. According to Reuters Health, it’s very dangerous for a baby to consume too much water and can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition  – water intoxication. It may also stop them drinking enough formula or breastmilk.

Therefore it should be completely off the menu for babies younger than six months, even in hot weather.

From six-months-old, babies can try sipping water, but only small amounts and only in addition to their usual breastmilk and formula feeds.

Health Direct advises offering small amounts of cooled, boiled tap water. But again, the advice is that breastmilk or formula should be their main drink up until they’re 12 months old. After 12 months, their main drink should be water and cow’s milk or breastmilk. After 12 months there’s no need to boil their drinking water first.

Just remember that between six and 12 months, babies still don’t really need water, as their main source of fluid is still breastmilk or formula. This period is about getting them used to having a few sips here and there.

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