Why giving water to your baby could be a very bad idea

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When you’re thirsty you often reach for a glass of water right? So it makes sense to assume that young babies could also use a bit of extra water in the hotter months to help them stay hydrated. But the truth is, babies just aren’t designed to drink the same way adults are.

Babies and water intoxication

Most of us are aware of the dangers of water intoxication in adults. The potential hazards of drinking too much water became widely known after incidents where festival-goers using the drug MDMA overexerted themselves, perspired heavily and then drank large amounts of water to rehydrate. This led to electrolyte imbalance and water intoxication.

Babies, on the other hand, don’t need to exert themselves in hot weather to suffer water intoxication. With their immature kidneys, giving them too much water during their first year – but particularly during the first nine months – can dilute a baby’s normal sodium levels which can lead to seizures, coma, brain damage and death.

But water is still OK for babies in some circumstances, as long as it isn’t given instead of breast or formula feeds. In a case in the past two years, a NSW mother had begun replacing some of the baby’s formula feeds with cordial because she couldn’t afford to buy the formula. This lead to water intoxication, seizures and hospitalisation. It also raises a whole lot of other questions about education, poverty and resources for families suffering from financial hardship.

Guide to fluids and your baby

Remember, your baby needs breast milk or formula – they are not optional and can’t be replaced with other drinks. When offering water, do so only in addition to their regular feeds.

 

To read the whole article, do visit http://www.kidspot.com.au.

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