Wednesday, 31 May 2023

The Importance of Avoiding Water for Infants Under Six Months Old

Water is a vital resource for our bodies, but when it comes to infants under six months old, it is crucial to understand why water is not recommended. 

Breast milk or formula offers all the necessary nutrients, including hydration, for a healthy start in life. 

This article explores the reasons behind the restriction on water for infants, backed by facts, examples, and expert recommendations.

I. The Nutritional Balance in Breast Milk and Formula: 

Breast milk and formula are designed to meet an infant's specific nutritional needs. They contain the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, including the necessary water content. Infants receive optimal hydration alongside vital nutrients for their growth and development by exclusively breastfeeding or providing formula.

II. Immaturity of an Infant's Kidneys: 

During the first six months of life, a baby's kidneys are still developing and not fully mature. They are not equipped to handle large amounts of water efficiently. Introducing water too early can overwhelm their kidneys and disrupt their delicate electrolyte balance, potentially leading to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances.

III. Risk of Malnutrition and Inadequate Weight Gain: 

Water consumption can fill an infant's stomach, reducing their appetite for breast milk or formula. Since breast milk and formula are complete sources of nutrition, this can lead to malnutrition and inadequate weight gain. It is vital to prioritize these nutrient-dense feeds to ensure optimal growth during this critical period.

IV. Water Intoxication: 

Water intoxication is rare but potentially dangerous if an infant consumes excessive water. This condition arises due to the dilution of essential electrolytes in the bloodstream. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, seizures, and, in severe cases, even coma or death. Infants under six months old are particularly vulnerable to water intoxication due to their immature kidneys.

V. Expert Recommendations: 

Pediatric healthcare professionals strongly advise against giving water to infants under six months old except under specific circumstances. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding until around six months of age without needing supplemental water.

VI. Exceptions and Special Circumstances: 

While water is generally not recommended, there are specific situations where a healthcare professional may advise its use. Examples include: 

a) Scorching weather: A healthcare professional may recommend offering small amounts of water to prevent dehydration in exceptionally hot climates. However, this guidance should be sought on a case-by-case basis. 

b) Certain medical conditions: A doctor may recommend supplemental water intake for some medical conditions, such as specific gastrointestinal disorders. This should always be based on a professional assessment and individualized care plan.


In the first six months of life, infants should rely exclusively on breast milk or formula for their hydration and nutritional needs. Although essential for older individuals, water is not recommended for infants under six months old due to the risk of malnutrition, immature kidneys, and the potential for water intoxication. Following the expert recommendations, parents can ensure their infants receive the optimal nutrition and hydration necessary for healthy growth and development. If in doubt, consult a pediatrician or healthcare professional for personalized guidance.


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