When Can My Baby Drink Water?
As you begin the solid foods journey with your little one, you may be wondering “When can my baby drink water?”. As adults, we know to drink water each day. So naturally you may assume your baby needs water too. However, it might not be as early as you think. Read on to learn more about when your baby can drink water.
At What Age Can I Offer My Baby Water?
You can begin to offer your baby small amounts of water at 6 months of age (1). If you choose to offer your baby water at this age, don’t offer more than 125 mL (½ cup) to 175 mL (¾ cup) per a day (2). Offering more than this can lead to not enough intake of calories and essential nutrients (2).
At 6 months old, almost all of your baby’s calories are coming from human milk or formula. Therefore, if you offer large amounts of water, your baby will fill up on water. Your little one won’t be hungry for human milk or formula. Human milk and formula contain very important nutrients for your baby at this age. If your baby doesn’t consume enough milk or formula, complications can occur (3). Complications can include your baby not gaining weight or issues with breast milk supply (3).
Do I Have to Offer Water to My Baby?
No, you don’t have to offer your baby water in the first year of life (1). This is because human milk and standard formula are mainly composed of water (1). Human milk and standard formula are around 87% water (1). For this reason, water is totally optional before 12 months of age. Therefore, your baby is well hydrated from the human milk or formula you are feeding them (1).
How Much Water Should My Baby Drink?
Your baby shouldn’t consume more than 125 mL (½ cup) to 175 mL (¾ cup) of water per a day before they are 12 months old (2). However, once your baby turns 1 year old, it’s recommended to offer water daily (1). Babies that are 1 year old should have about 237 mL (1 cup) of water daily (1). This is in addition to human milk and formula.
If your baby is 1 year old and is thirsty between meals, offer water (3). Offering juice at an early age could increase the risk of tooth decay, replace human milk and formula, or cause an upset stomach (4). It’s recommended to offer your baby whole fruits instead of fruit juice (4). Offering milk between meals can cause your baby to fill up on milk and they might not be hungry for their next meal. Therefore, it is recommended to only offer milk with meals.
Check out our Introducing Solids Program, where we talk in more detail about the drinks to offer your baby!
Is My Baby Drinking Enough Water?
If you’re worried about your baby’s water intake, contact your pediatrician (1). Also, you can keep track of the number of wet diapers your baby has in 24 hours (1). Generally, your baby should have 4 to 6 good, wet diapers every 24 hours (1).
What Kind of Cup Should I Offer Water in?
It’s best to offer water in an open cup or a cup with a straw (3). This is because it helps your baby learn cup-drinking skills (1). It isn’t recommended to offer water in a sippy cup. A sippy cup does not help with developmental skills (1). Additionally, offering water in a sippy cup or bottle can lead to over consumption of water (1). When you are looking to purchase an open cup, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want a cup that is small and easy for your baby to hold (1). Also, it is ideal to have a cup that doesn’t hold more than 1-3 oz (1). This is because you will likely be dealing with many spills in the beginning (1).
Is it Normal for My Baby to Cough While Drinking Water?
When introducing water, your baby may cough and sputter (1). This is totally normal. Water is tricky to learn how to drink. It is thin and flows quickly (1). This requires the tongue and swallow muscles to work very fast (1). Additionally, drinking from a straw or cup uses very different oral motor skills than breast or bottle feeding (1). The coughing and sputtering will begin to disappear as your baby’s oral motor skills improve (1).
Final Notes from The Nest
Around the same time you begin to introduce solid foods to your baby, you can offer water. This is around the 6 month age mark. However, it is totally optional to offer water to your baby before they are 12 months old. Your baby will receive enough water through human milk and formula alone. Most importantly, water should never replace human milk or formula. Once your baby turns 1 year old, you should offer water daily. Try to offer water in an open cup or straw cup. These cups help in the development of oral motor skills. Finally, if you have any further questions about offering water to your baby, don’t hesitate to book a free call with a Registered Dietitian at The Nest.
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- Solid Starts [Internet]. Brooklyn: Solid Starts LLC; c2019-2022 [cited 2022 Aug 22]. Water for Babies and Toddlers; [about 11 screens]. Available from: https://solidstarts.com/starting-solids/water/#easy-footnote-bottom-5-530668
- Grueger B. Weaning from the breast. Paediatr Child Health. 2013;18(4):210. https://cps.ca/en/documents/position/weaning-from-the-breast
- Alberta Health Services. Nutrition guideline: healthy infants and young children water [Internet]. Edmonton (AB): Alberta Health Services; 2013 [cited 2022 Aug 22]. 5 p. Available from: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/nutrition/if-nfs-ng-healthy-infants-other-milks-fluid-water.pdf
- Naqvi, N. Should fruit juice be introduced to an infant’s diet? If so, when and how? Unlock Food. Dietitians of Canada. 2022. https://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=3805&pqcatid=145&pqid=7945