Finally, the weather here seems to see that a little sun is good for you. The temperatures are now approaching an area that I find quite pleasant while my husband is already escaping in the shadows.
Drinking plenty of it is the order of the day for us adults (at least it should be), but what is it like for a baby? Does a baby have to drink water in the summer?
Misconception of the consequences: Babies have to drink water
Give him some water, he is definitely thirsty! I was allowed to listen to myself regularly in the past few days. Not only my mom was of the opinion that our baby definitely needs some extra water, neighbors or friends also recommended a water bottle.
My feeling told me that babies don’t really need water, but all the advice unsettled me. The arguments also seemed plausible to me, and a little water certainly can’t hurt, can it?
After studying the subject in more detail, I now have a different opinion. Babies usually do NOT need additional water as long as they do not consume solid food (this also includes porridge). This applies to both nursing and bottle children.
Why baby shouldn’t drink water?
There are two reasons why babies should not be offered additional water:
- Water quenches a baby’s thirst, but it doesn’t contain any calories or nutrients.
A baby’s stomach is still very small and if it is filled with water, there is no more space for nutritious milk. But this is super important for the development of the baby. So babies may not be drinking enough milk if they have been given water beforehand.
- Too much water can even be dangerous for babies. You can get water poisoning.
What is water poisoning?
With water poisoning, there is too much water in a person’s organism. Too much water causes the blood to be diluted, which also dilutes the ingredients in the blood. It is dangerous here that the sodium concentration decreases. Sodium is a substance that is very important for our body because it contributes to the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles.
When sodium and water are no longer in the right proportion to one another, processes begin that actually ensure that the balance is restored:
The body cells absorb more water. Where body cells are delimited by soft skin, this can be seen as the affected parts of the body swell. However, the cells in the brain also absorb more water and this cannot expand due to the hard skull. The result can be cerebral edema with headache, tremors or nausea, up to a loss of consciousness or epileptic seizures.
How do you recognize water poisoning in the baby?
A water poisoning in the baby can only be recognized as a loan if several factors come together. Parents who suspect water poisoning should immediately take the baby to the hospital.
- The baby was drinking extra fluid
- The baby looks lethargic and puffy
- The baby’s head enlarges
- The baby vomits
- The baby cries more or becomes remarkably calm
There is advice on the Internet about how to let the baby suck on salty foods. On the one hand, the question is always whether it is actually water poisoning and, on the other hand, how serious it is.
What to do with water poisoning in the baby?
Water poisoning in babies should never be treated on your own! Call an emergency doctor as soon as possible and have the baby treated by a doctor. Even if the suspicion is not confirmed in the end, water poisoning can be fatal to babies and should therefore be ruled out with certainty.
Why are babies particularly at risk?
The kidneys of small babies have not yet fully started. They are not yet able to process large quantities of water quickly enough and to remove them again.
Unlike milk, water contains hardly any nutrients and therefore does not help to keep the nutrient concentration in the blood constant. From around the sixth month, the kidneys are better equipped for larger amounts of water.
In addition, baby water (water that is suitable for the preparation of baby food) is NOT suitable as a thirst quencher for babies. On the contrary: This water contains very little sodium and can therefore intensify the effects of water poisoning.
Can I stretch bottle milk or breast milk with water?
No! This is also discouraged. It doesn’t matter whether the water gets into the baby’s organism alone or mixed with milk, it can be too much. With the mixtures, there is also the risk that the baby will drink more because it tastes good.
Milk (as needed!) Is sufficient
Even in summer, parents do not have to worry about the baby not getting enough fluids when breastfeeding or feeding them as needed. In summer, it is better to offer the breast or bottle too much than once too little.
Breastfeeding children benefit twice from short breastfeeding intervals in summer. This gives them more front milk, which contains fewer calories, and above all quenches their thirst. In very hot areas of the world, mums sometimes put their babies on several times an hour. In summer this can also be useful for us (oh how good that in summer you have less clothes and your chest is ready faster).
The worry that you have too little milk is in most cases unfounded. The more often the child is put on, the more milk is produced. If you have the feeling that the baby is simply not satisfied or is constantly thirsty, you should definitely contact a breastfeeding consultant or the pediatrician.
Bottled children should also be offered the bottle more often in the hot months. The powdered food should not be diluted on your own. If you feel that the baby is drinking too much and is gaining weight, you should discuss this with your doctor or a midwife.
Of course, water is not bad per se
This article is not meant to spread panic. If the baby takes a sip of water, it will most likely not be a problem. Even if the baby is already beginning to eat solid food (porridge), you should of course give it some water.
The point here is that babies who only consume milk do not need additional water. Milk alone is enough! Do not let anyone scare you on this point. Nature has arranged that babies can be completely cared for by our milk until their bodies are more robust.
In the past, when drinking water was regularly contaminated with germs, this was extremely important, so these mechanisms usually work pretty well. Moreover, if you have the feeling that it is not enough for you, then you should definitely discuss this with a specialist who can certainly advise you and help you.