You probably have heard about babies should not be given water until they turn six months old. But do you know the reason behind this guideline? To ease your doubt on whether you should follow this advice, here’s a medical explanation why water can put your little one’s health at risk.

When you’re having a baby, you’ll get many unsolicited advices from other people about how to care for an infant. One of the most common recommendation you’ll hear is not to give water to your baby until he/she is old enough to eat solid food. This is a bit surprising to learn as we know how important water in the human body.

Water keeps: the body hydrated, regulates body temperature, moisten skin, protect body organs and tissues, and helps carry oxygen throughout the body to mention a few of the benefits. But not for babies. This is because infants’ bodies have 75% water as compared to 55 to 60% in adults. With this amount of water in the body, little ones won’t be able to handle more liquid aside from breastmilk or formula milk. Which are their primary source of nutrition and hydration for the first year of life.

Giving water to babies younger than six months old can lead to several health problems.

  • Water can interfere with babies’ nutritional needs. Infants’ tummies are small. Only about a size of a pea on the first day. Growing gradually to about a size of a large egg at one month old. Then about a size of a grapefruit on six to twelve months old. Clearly, babies’ bellies do not have much room on the first few months of their lives. Therefore, it is important to fill their tiny stomachs with nutrients that they need to grow and develop. Infants can get their essential nutrients from breastmilk or formula milk. Giving water to babies before they reach six months old will only make them feel full but not healthy. It can curb their appetite for milk leading to malnutrition.
  • Electrolyte imbalance. Because babies’ bodies are not yet fully developed, giving them additional liquid aside from breastmilk or formula milk can mess their bodies’ electrolyte balance resulting to seizures. This condition can also be triggered if the suggested water- milk ratio of formula milk is not followed. So, it’s important to read the milk’s packaging for its suggested ratio before giving any formula milk to your baby. Formula milks have different mixing ratios to each another.
  • Water intoxication. Infants’ kidneys are still growing and cannot handle too much water. Thus, giving them water may lead to water intoxication. Or excessive water in the body. When this happens, the excess water goes to bloodstream. Diluting the concentration of electrolytes, such as: sodium, potassium, and calcium, in the body. When not resolved immediately, the condition may develop into
  • Hyponatremia. A life-threatening condition as a result of having low salt in the body. This can cause brain swelling which can increased intracranial pressure leading to brain damage. Or death if not corrected on time.

These are the possible health conditions a baby may have when introduced to water at early age. The right time to give water to your baby is when they start eating solid foods. At six months old. This is the time their bodies are matured enough to take water. But be careful to offer water moderately. Do not force them to drink if they don’t want as they are still adjusting. Breastmilk or formula milk is still the main source of nutrition and hydration for infants up to one year old.

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.