Babies who are still breastfeeding breast milk exclusively do not need water before they reach six months of age. Giving water to babies under six months can actually invite the risk of malnutrition and diarrhea.
As recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), infants need exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life. Exclusive breastfeeding means that the baby only consumes breast milk, does not consume additional food or drinks. If the condition of Mother or baby does not allow for exclusive breastfeeding, give formula milk.
Provision of water for babies under six months of age can pose health risks as follows.
Risk of malnutrition
If the baby is breastfed exclusively drinking water, he can stop breastfeeding prematurely and this can cause malnutrition. Mother will feel the impact, that is the amount of milk will be reduced. Regarding the content of breast milk itself, especially the droplets that come out first for every baby to suckle, contain more than 80 percent water. Therefore, breast milk alone is enough to hydrate the baby. Every time the baby is thirsty or hungry, immediately give ASI. In addition to relieving thirst, breast milk also helps protect your baby from infection and helps the baby grow and develop normally.
Meanwhile, giving water to babies who are breastfed with formula milk is also not recommended. Follow the instructions for making formula milk for your baby, don’t try to add more than the recommended amount of water. Giving diluted formula for too much water means giving your baby fewer nutrients than he needs.
In addition, both in infants under 6 months who consume breast milk or formula milk, giving water can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from milk. Water can also cause the baby’s stomach to feel full so that the desire to eat is reduced.
Risk of diarrhea
Drinking water can also cause your baby to become infected because the water may not be sterile, so your baby can get diarrhea. For babies who consume formula milk, Mother is recommended to use water that has been boiled until cooked with a temperature of at least 70 ° Celsius, then cool before serving. Mother is not recommended to use bottled water directly, but must still be cooked first.
Also, if you use bottled water, pay attention to its mineral content because it may contain too much salt or sodium or sulfate. Check the label on the water package and make sure the sodium or commonly written Na is not more than 200 mg per liter and the sulfate levels or commonly written SO or SO4 is less than 250 mg per liter.
Risk of water poisoning
Diluting formula can invite the risk of water poisoning to the baby. In rare cases, drinking too much water can cause baby water poisoning or water intoxification, a condition when the level of salt in the blood drops dramatically to a level that is too low so that it disrupts electrolyte balance. Symptoms of water poisoning can include swelling of the body, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Water poisoning can make the baby spasm and even coma.
When Can Babies Drink Water?
The following conditions allow the baby to drink water.
- When the weather is hot, Mother may provide additional water when brewing formula milk for babies who do consume formula milk.
- If the baby has a stomach flu or gastroenteritis, doctors usually recommend giving an electrolyte drink to the baby. The goal is to help prevent dehydration.
- After the baby is six months old, the baby may be given water when thirsty, but don’t overdo it.
- After one year of age, when he has eaten solid food, he may be given as much water as he likes.
Not all drinks are suitable for babies and children, especially those under 6 months. Apart from water, tea, whether sweet or not, and coffee are also not recommended to be given to babies. Tea and coffee can reduce iron absorption.