Let’s admit it, there’s nothing quite like an ice-cold drink of water on a hot day.
Or after a workout. Or after one too many jalapeños on a slice of pizza…
But when it comes to your little one, you might be sitting there thinking when can babies drink water?
When can babies have tap water with formula? Can newborns drink water? Seriously, when can babies have water?!
Keep reading, mama. Here’s everything you need to know about when to give baby water.
In this article 📝
- When can babies have water?
- Can newborns drink water?
- What can babies drink at 6 months?
- When can babies drink bottled water?
- How do I introduce water to my baby?
- Why can’t babies drink water?
- What happens if a baby accidentally drinks water?
- When can babies have gripe water?
When can babies have water?
It’s considered safe to start introducing water to your baby when they start solid foods.
So if you’re wondering when can babies drink water?, the answer is often around six months of age, although it can be between 4-6 months depending on certain developmental factors.
“They don’t need and shouldn’t have a substantial amount of water at this age,” says Registered Toddler Dietitian and Nutritionist (RDN) Kacie Barnes.
“And as a side note, we do recommend waiting until closer to 6 months when introducing solids so that your baby is displaying more of the readiness signs.”
Introducing water can help reduce the chance of constipation as your baby’s digestive system starts tackling bulky solids.
Can newborns drink water?
No, newborn babies cannot drink water.
Until the age of 4-6 months, baby should only be drinking breast milk or formula.
This is because baby drinking water can cause medical issues like brain swelling, which can be serious.
If you’re looking for ways to aid your 7-week-old baby’s constipation, skip the water and instead, try moving their legs around for them, as this can help get things moving.
And speak to your pediatrician’s office if you’re concerned.
When can I give my 2-month-old water?
You’ll have to wait a few more months to give your 2-month-old baby drinking water.
Generally speaking, it’s at about 4-6 months that baby is ready to drink water, when they’re trying solid foods.
What can babies drink at 6 months?
Water’s not the only thing a 6-month-old baby can enjoy.
As they’re starting their culinary journey, they can also try small amounts of:
Diluting these with some baby-safe water is a good idea – 1 measure of fruit juice to 8-10 measures of water.
But while diluting juice is a good trick, Barnes recommends waiting until age 1+ for juice.
“While the sugars in them do come from the fruits themselves, we don’t want to encourage them to develop too much of a preference for sweet foods.
That coupled with the fact that they don’t really need additional liquid at this age, makes me more inclined to hold off until age 1 or above.”
It’s best to avoid this until your baby is 6 months old, and even at that, best to keep it in very small amounts.
“Don’t offer cow’s milk as a drink at 6 months old,” advises Barnes, “that will be appropriate from one year on.
But you can use it as an ingredient in what you offer or to thin out something like oatmeal, etc.”
When it comes to oat milk, almond milk, or other plant-based milk (hello coconut), Barnes recommends avoiding added sugars in these.
“Many are loaded up with sugar to make them taste better.
And again, we won’t offer these as a drink until after 1 year of age, but they are fine to use in the solids that you’re preparing and offering!”
And as for what to avoid, you may not be surprised to find fizzy drinks at the top of the list until your baby is at least 12 months old.
Meanwhile coffee, tea, or anything caffeinated is recommended to stay off the menu until after 10 to 12 years old.
How much water can a six-month-old have?
Even though it’s safe to offer water to your 6-month-old, they still don’t need to be chugging back their bottle like they’re at a keg party.
“They don’t actually start having fluid needs until around 1,” explains Barnes, “but before that, it’s fine to offer sips with meals and snacks.”
Breast milk or formula is still the primary source of hydration and nutrition that your baby needs until they’re 12 months old.
At this age, it’s still very much about experimenting with tastes and sensations.
How many ml of water should I give my 6-month-old baby?
Can babies under 1 have water?
Yes, babies under 1-year-old can drink water, but it’s only advised from when they start trying solid foods (weaning).
This can happen at about 6 months old, and while water is a great thing to introduce to baby, it’s still best to feed them mainly breastmilk or formula until they reach their first birthday.
When can babies drink bottled water?
According to the UK NHS, it’s best to avoid bottled water for babies until they’re about 6 months old.
It’s also worth checking how much sodium (salt) is in the bottled water, as some can have too much water for baby’s body to break down.
The sodium in the water should be less than 250mg per liter.
It’s also worth remembering that bottled water isn’t actually sterile, so it shouldn’t be used straight from the bottle for baby’s formula.
To sterilize bottled water or tap water, simply boil it to at least 160°F then let it cool down completely before use.
It can help to pre-boil and cool water well in advance of your formula feedings, so you’re not caught out.
Don’t forget to put the sterilized water into sterilized containers!
How do I introduce water to my baby?
You can offer small sips of water using a sippy cup, bottle, or small open cups designed for babies (they’re often made of safe materials like silicone).
“I love introducing an open cup early,” says Barnes, “it’s a skill that takes them some time to master, but its great for oral muscular development that actually also promotes speech development down the line!”
You can offer water at mealtimes or between meals to get your little one used to the flavor of water.
Here’s our chart for how much water baby should drink by month:
- 6-9 months old: Less than 4oz per day, broken up into 1-2 sittings.
- 9-12 months old: Less than 8oz per day, broken up into 2-4 sittings.
- 12-24 months old: Between 8oz to 32oz per day, depending on whether they’re breastfeeding or drinking formula.
When can baby drink tap water?
Tap water in the US, much like tap water in the UK or anywhere else in the world, isn’t sterile.
From birth, baby can have tap water with formula, but it will have to be boiled and sterilized until they are 6 months old.
After 6 months, a little unsterilized tap water should be fine, as long as baby is also starting to eat solid foods.
But all in all, it’s best to avoid unsterilized tap water until your baby is about 6 months old.
Why can’t babies drink water?
So why can’t babies have water before 6 months old?
Offering water to your baby earlier than 4-6 months can pose a few risks, due to their small stomach, immature digestive system, and developing brain function.
A lot is going on inside that tiny body!
At 6 months, the average baby’s stomach can only hold 7oz (that’s 207ml) of liquid, so it doesn’t take much for them to be full.
By offering water to a young baby, there’s a risk of:
Reducing their milk intake
Breastmilk or formula provides your baby with all the hydration, vitamins, and nutrients they need.
By offering water, you risk filling up their tiny stomach with water (something essentially void of nutritional benefit) so they might feel full and refuse a milk feed.
If they do this, they risk having poor weight gain (or even losing weight) and nutritional deficiencies.
Yep. This sounds scary!
Water intoxication, also called hyponatremia, is when drinking too much water becomes toxic ‒ after all, too much of anything can be dangerous, to babies, children, and adults.
It causes sodium levels to drop and the kidneys become overwhelmed.
In babies, water intoxication can result in vomiting, lethargy, and even seizures, and requires urgent medical attention.
It would be hard for your baby to drink this much water, so don’t stress too much.
Just be aware that water intoxication is a possibility, especially if you regularly dilute your baby’s breast milk or formula with excess water.
What happens if a baby accidentally drinks water?
Now you know why babies can’t drink water, what happens if they drink water accidentally?
First, take a moment, mama.
Chances are, baby will be just fine – if it’s a small amount of water, you’ll probably just see them peeing a bit more.
But it’s worth keeping an eye on them, no matter how much water they drink accidentally.
If baby is particularly tired, lethargic, fussy, has any seizures or swelling around their face, get them to a doctor as soon as possible.
What if baby swallowed water during bath?
More often than not, a baby who has swallowed some bath water hasn’t swallowed that much, so they’re likely to be fine.
But if baby drinks a few mouthfuls of bath water, it’s worth taking them to their doctor, just in case.
And if they show any signs of drowsiness, irritability, seizures, or swelling, see your doctor as soon as possible.
What to do if you think your baby inhaled water?
If you’re introducing water to baby from 4-6 months old with solid foods, there’s a chance baby could inhale the water.
Chances are, it’s just a small amount of water, and baby should be absolutely fine – they may cough and get themselves worked up, but they’re likely to be fine.
But try not to fret, mama, cases of dry drowning are very rare.
When can babies have gripe water?
Gripe water is a whole different situation, as it’s a type of liquid herbal remedy — not actual water.
However, gripe water should only be given to babies 1-month-old and up, as it can irritate their digestion.
So now we know all there is to know about when babies can drink water.
If you’re starting your little one on solid foods and baby drinking water, best of luck, mama!
And if you want a little reassurance or guidance, feel free to ask our veteran mamas of Peanut.