Water is an important element of human well being but giving water to young babies can make some undesirable things happen and can suppress other good things. For example, in the first few days after birth, drinking water has been found to increase the severity of newborn jaundice. Babies who are breastfeeding well don’t have much problem with jaundice, but those who are given water as well will become more jaundiced, and makes them sleepy and lethargic.
Giving water in the early weeks can also interfere with breastfeeding. A baby who has a tummy full of water will drink less milk at his feedings, and his mother’s breasts will decrease milk production in response.
As a result, the baby will get less milk, and may not grow as well. In addition, if the water is given in a bottle, the baby’s sucking technique may become confused.
Research shows that babies don’t normally need extra water. In the summer, when the baby might be a little more thirsty, the breast milk will be slightly more watery.
Similarly, in the winter, a baby receives more creamy milk. Of course, nursing mothers should be prepared to drink extra water during hot months.
Doctors suggest that it is alright to give water to babies around six or seven months of age when the baby is sitting up well and has started eating solid foods.
Once your baby is beginning to drink from a cup, water is usually a better choice than juice. It’s the best drink for satisfying thirst and doesn’t have all the sugar that fruit juices do.
But until your baby’s diet includes a variety of foods, she/he will get all the water she/he needs from the breast milk.