The only drink babies need until they turn at least six months old is breastmilk or formula milk. Introducing other liquids, including water, before they start solid foods can be fatal for infants. Here’s why.

Babies’ bellies are small. With only 7 to 13 ml capacity at the first two days of life. Increasing gradually to 180 ml capacity at about six months old. This very limited room in babies’ tummies is the main reason why water is not suitable for them until they are a half year old. Water can cause malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance, or water intoxication which can put infants’ life at risk.

Providing enough breastmilk or formula milk is highly critical for babies’ health. This is because these milks are packed with nutrients and minerals that are essential for infants’ growth and development. Filling their small guts with water instead of food in the form of breastmilk or formula milk may interfere their ability to absorb sufficient nutrients for their needs. Leading to malnutrition which is manifested by weight loss, slow weight gain, poor appetite, weakness, and sleeping more than usual.

Malnutrition in infancy can cause irreversible health problems that they can bring into adulthood. Such as: learning problems, weak immune system, not reaching their optimal size as adult, and low physical capabilities. Malnourishment may also occur when formula milk is prepared with more water than recommended. That is why it is crucial to check the packaging when giving formula milk to your infant as different brands have different suggested ratios.

Offering additional water to young babies whether it’s through formula milk or plain water can result in electrolytes imbalance. The kidneys of infants below six months old are not yet developed enough to excrete fluid as rapidly as their older counterparts. Therefore, giving them water increases their risk of overhydration which can cause electrolyte imbalance that can lead to seizures.

An electrolyte imbalance caused by water intoxication can then trigger a condition called hyponatremia.  Or low sodium (salt) level in the body. This is a dangerous health condition that can be life-threatening. When there is too much water in the body, the excess amount of fluid goes to the bloodstream diluting the concentration of electrolytes. Such as calcium, potassium, chloride, and sodium.

When the sodium level reduces to 0.4 ounces per gallon, the body is at risk of hyponatremia. At this point the cells will try to return the sodium levels to normal by absorbing the extra water in the body. The process will swell up cells causing vomiting, seizures, and weakness to babies. The excess water will eventually reach cells in the brain causing the organ to swell. The bulging brain then builds up pressure in the skull causing brain damage or death.

Not giving water to babies until they start eating solid food is common knowledge. But many don’t know the reason behind this advice. Learning about the dangers of giving water to babies below six months old helps ease doubts on whether to follow this recommendation or not. I hope you share what you learn in this article to help newborn parents make an informed decision.

Author's Bio: 

Isabella Whitmore enjoys reading and writing about health, fitness, and family. She writes for, an appliance website that offers a wide selection of electric kettles. Including BPA-Free Kettles which are safe for babies.