One of the most exciting and sometimes terrifying parts of parenthood is during the beginning stages of a child’s life. It’s an amazing time because parents get to learn about who their baby is and just what they can do. It’s terrifying because they have to learn the proper ways to take care of their child, too. And, it’s not always a one-size-fits-all scenario. Some things have to be done through trial and error, like figuring out what foods your baby likes to eat, what brand of diapers to buy, etc. Other things are best left up to the opinions of doctors and science. One such thing is whether or not to give your baby water.
Learning how to eat and drink are natural processes that a baby will learn over time. Babies always start out getting their nourishment from liquids. They get it particularly, and most importantly, from breast milk. For at least six months, that is all the nourishment that a baby needs, and water and other fluids and solids can be introduced into the diet in time. Some parents don’t always abide by the rules whether knowingly or unknowingly. This carries potential dangers for the baby. Below is our list of 12 times it becomes dangerous for parents to give their baby water or other liquids.
12 During The First Few Days Following Birth
The first few days are even more crucial to a baby’s eating habits than the first few months. Parents shouldn’t give their newborns water, because it puts them at an increased risk for certain illnesses, diseases and even death in some cases.
Water is off limits for newborns especially because it can put babies at a higher risk for jaundice which is a liver issue causing the yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes, and it is associated with extended hospital stays for newborns as well. Water can cause an increase in bilirubin levels which causes issues with the liver and leads to jaundice. It can also lead to the baby being underweight as they don’t feed properly, or it can lead to oral water intoxication. Water intoxication can be marked by a variety of symptoms that include puffiness, a lack of attentiveness or alertness, and vomiting to name a few.
11 Before They Reach 6 Months
Babies change so much over six months both mentally and physically. They become a little more active and have a tendency to try to eat everything! Still, the one thing that should not change is what is in their diet.
Breastmilk or formula should be the only thing a baby is drinking or consuming during their first six months of life. Water is great. Water is refreshing...for young kids and adults. Babies get all of the nutrients that they could ever need from breastmilk and formula. It can be tempting to break this habit when it is 100 degrees outside, but even on a hot day, the only thing a baby needs is already in breastmilk and formula. Mother's milk is mostly water anyways. Giving a young baby water can lead to issues with jaundice and nutrient deficiencies.
10 When The Baby Has Eaten Too Much
Babies of a certain age after six months are given the all clear to have small sips of water in moderation. If a baby is still nursing, he or she is still following the same guidelines as newborns. They are getting much of their dietary needs fulfilled from breastmilk. Still, it is okay to give the baby a little water at this stage, but parents should be aware of when they give the baby water.
Babies who have just eaten are less likely to need water or even want it. But in case the baby does want a drink, parents should only allow so much. Giving a baby too much water after they’ve just eaten can contribute to nausea and cause the baby to vomit. Again, even on a hot day, parents can and should fight the urge to give a baby a lot of water. The baby will find all that they need in their mother’s milk.
9 When The Baby Has Not Eaten At All
Just as water shouldn’t be given when a baby has eaten too much, it shouldn’t be given when a baby hasn’t eaten either. This is especially dangerous, because it interrupts the natural flow of things for the baby and the mother.
Babies who are given water before they feed are less likely to be hungry. The chances of them wanting to feed or feeding adequately are slim. Water is a basic element of life, so we all need it. But, babies get their water from milk plus the nutrients that they need to grow. Water itself has no nutritional value for the baby and no calories. Babies grow quite a lot during the first few months of life. They need the calories and nutrients in breastmilk to grow bigger. If a baby drinks too much water, they are in danger of becoming underweight or even overweight as their feeding schedules get thrown off by drinking water.
8 If There's Sugar In It
Sugar water is a very different type of drink that is sometimes given to newborn babies. Many people don’t consider giving their child this regularly, but it is actually pretty commonly used in some hospitals. Some hospitals give it to children during or after painful procedures like circumcision or blood withdrawals to help the baby cope with pain. They are also used for low blood sugar and constipation.
Despite this being a common practice for some, it doesn’t mean that it is a good thing to do. There is some research that would suggest that the sugar water does little in the way of subduing the pain. In fact, it might just remove a baby’s ability to grimace at the pain, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t feel anything. On top of this, sugar is--well--sugar. It doesn’t have any nutritional value, but it can cause problems with obesity and jaundice in the long run.
7 If Baby’s Temperature Drops
There are many different signs of water intoxication. A drop in body temperature can be one of those signs. The body’s natural temperature is around 97 degrees. When a baby’s temperature drops below 97, it could mean something dangerous is going on.
If a parent has given their child excessive amounts of water, then the reason behind the drop in temperature is pretty clear. Too much water, especially cold water, can bring the baby’s body temperature down. When water intoxication has taken place, there is usually a coldness in the baby’s hands, lower legs, and feet. When combined with other signs and symptoms like unresponsiveness and vomiting, a hospital visit is necessary. If this occurs, the baby should be taken to the hospital immediately.
6 If Baby's Face Is Puffy
Another possible issue of water intoxication is puffiness and swelling. The excess water can lead to swelling in the face, joints and overall bloating appearance. It is probably one of the more visual signs of water intoxication than some of the others. Babies can be pretty pudgy, but it won’t be hard to tell if the baby’s face or other parts of the body are puffier than usual. It can be a sign of something more serious going on.
Excess water intake leads to fluid retention that creates the swelling. Other issues could be increased blood pressure and weight gain. Parents should be especially wary of how much water their child drinks, as they have to be drinking pretty large amounts of water to get to this point. If a parent suspects that water intoxication may have been the cause of bloating, puffiness or swelling in their baby, they should go to the hospital immediately.
5 If Baby Is Vomiting A Lot
The next big physical sign of water intoxication is vomiting. Babies usually drink a lot when it comes to breastmilk, so much so that they are prone to having little “spit up” incidents. But there is a big difference between a little spit up and having to throw up a lot.
Vomiting can be the sign of many different sicknesses and illnesses, but if a baby has been drinking a lot of water (especially if they are under six months), the chances are that water intoxication is the cause of their illness. Excess amounts of water can cause the sodium content in a person’s blood to drop too low and can lead to nausea and vomiting. When a baby is throwing up profusely, they will start to lose a lot of fluid. It would be counterproductive to give water, even in little sips, to a baby that is vomiting too much. The safest bet is to take the child to the hospital.
4 If Baby Seems Very Weak
Many of the signs and symptoms associated with water intoxication can be confused with other types of illnesses. It is hard to assess just what a baby has based off of one symptom, but a combination of factors can contribute to a proper diagnosis. Some of the other symptoms we’ve listed including vomiting, puffiness, and weakness can be another danger of water intoxication.
When a person consumes a lot of water at once, it flushes out most of the electrolytes and sodium that our body needs to function. This, in turn, can lead to issues with nausea and weakness or lightheadedness. It doesn’t take much for this to happen with babies, because they are a lot smaller and their diet usually only consists of breastmilk. The milk contains all of the vitamins, nutrients, and water that a baby needs, so drinking water on top of what they’ve already consumed through milk can lead to symptoms of water intoxication like weakness. As with all signs on this list, if a baby appears to be weak or nonresponsive, it is important to seek out medical attention immediately.
3 If Baby Is Having A Hard Time Breathing
Another dangerous sign of illness and possible water intoxication is rapid breathing. When a baby is struggling to breathe or is breathing hard or panting in a sense, it is a very serious sign that intoxication could have taken place. Even is a person is not sure that the cause of rapid breathing is due to intoxication, or if the symptoms persist in a warm climate, it isn’t a good idea to give the baby a lot of water because it could lead to something worse.
The best thing for a parent to do is obviously to get to a hospital as quick as possible. Rapid breathing or shortness of breath is a more severe sign of intoxication and could lead to other problems including brain damage and damage to other organs if the issue is not treated properly.
2 If Baby Is Constipated
When a baby’s diet is interrupted by certain foods or drinks, it can cause them to have digestive issues. It is not recommended for babies under six months to eat or drink anything outside of breastmilk, and babies that are less than a year should probably lay off too many solid foods and beverages outside of breastmilk, too.
Some people opt to give their baby little niblets of their food, especially as the child gets older and starts to beg for pieces of food off of mom or dad’s plate. It can be tempting to give in and start giving them little bits and pieces and providing them with sips of juice or water. This can lead to constipation. The only way to really relieve that constipation is through the proper fluids, but this doesn’t mean that the baby should be gulping down a lot of water to fix it. It could actually cause more harm than good. Juice and sugary drinks should be especially off limits as they provide no nutritional value and could also contribute to the issue of constipation.
1 If Baby Is Drowsy
When a baby has consumed too much water, they can be in danger of passing out. It can be pretty difficult for them to get to this point, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. Parents may give their baby a lot of water if they’ve been throwing up and seemingly losing a lot of fluids or if it is especially hot outside. But again, water has no real nutritional value. Breast milk, in comparison, has all of the nutrients and water the baby will need to get through a hot day.
When a baby has consumed toxic amounts of water to the point where he or she could faint, they could face a variety of issues like brain damage, damage to the lungs, hearing loss, among many others. Drowsiness due to severe intoxication can be extremely dangerous and should be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.
Sources: KellyMom.com, Reuters.com, BabyCenter.com, WhatToExpect.com, CheckUpNewsRoom.com, HealthOfChildren.com, StLouisChildrens.org