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You are here: Home > Baby > Bottle Feeding

Should Babies Have Water?

by Dr. Christine Wood, M.D
14 Comments

Q. When should you give a baby water to drink? My nephew's pediatrician told him and his girlfriend not to give their one month old daughter water. Is this advice correct? And if so, why? Also, they were told to feed her only every four hours, no more, no less. However, the baby cries every 2 1/2 to 3 hours and they don't feed her according to the doctors instructions. They will wait until it has been exactly four hours before they feed her again and try to pacify her with a pacifier or by walking her in between. Shouldn't they feed her if she is hungry?

A.Water is usually introduced around three to four months of age in my practice. The reason is that we want them to get nutritional value with breastmilk or formula and these feedings contain 80% water, so there is no need for extra hydration. However, in the summer months, I will sometimes have the mom give a liitle water. As far as feeding a baby only every 4 hours, I personally do not agree with that. If the baby is breastfed, lactation consultants and experts use a "demand feeding" schedule, meaning nurse when the baby seem hungry. Babies vary in their appetite between each other and even within days of the week. If nursing, they can go through growth spurts when they are trying to bring in more of mother's milk and therefore, feed more often for a few days. If the baby is bottle-fed, they could try increasing the amount of milk they give, but even formula babies may need to eat every 3 hours at times. They can try other ways to comfort the baby, but if it doesn't work, I would try feeding. They should also check that the baby is gaining enough weight. If the baby is not, he is not getting enough milk.

Dr. Christine Wood is a practicing pediatrician in Southern California. She is the author of "How to Get Kids to Eat Great and Love It," a book that addresses the issues of why and how to feed kids healthy. You can visit her website at http://www.callyour

Showing 1 - 10 out of 12 Comments
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Guest Mar 20, 2014 05:22:52 AM ET

Hi ladies. i'm a first time mom and i've being giving my 2 month old daughter water with a bit of gripe water every morning before her milk, but she refuses to drink it. what can i do to get her to drink the water?

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sheryl Mar 7, 2013 10:52:41 PM ET

Im a grandmother of 8 so far and my neice just had a baby boy hes a week old and we are going through a heatwave here in victoria i always gave my babys and grand babys boiled water from birth they had no problems they need to be hydrated as do we they the nurse told her not to give water ( so many cotton wool kids out there in todays world ) go back to the 60s-90s no problems just my humble opinion

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My opinion Feb 2, 2013 05:18:40 PM ET

Yes, let's use common sense. you are not going to give your baby full bottles of water, but just one ounce a day! one ounce only, and not just before feed time, nor to fill'em up after a feed. from a month old or there abouts should be fine, but your midwife should guide you

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Bob Nov 15, 2011 01:36:41 PM ET

Whats wrong with wetting the little ones whistle once in a while. oh...brother..use..your head and heart on what will help your little one. now days you may wish to distill the water you use but it will not hurt them.

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LLR09 Mar 21, 2011 03:01:35 PM ET

A baby gets all the water they need through their formula or breastmilk!!!! you can cause your babys electrolite's to be not in balance if u give ur baby too much water, also it is possible to overdose your baby on water!!! i would listen to the dr who has a degree and does it for a living!!! my mother in law is all the time telling me things i need to do with my newborn son, and it drives me crazy, just because you have children doesnt make you an expert on anything i use my mother instincts and what my doctor tells me because all babies are different!!!! times have changed from 20 years + ago!!! no one baby is the same as another

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Father Mar 18, 2011 05:32:45 PM ET

Ignorance isn't wisdom. listen to your doctors, people. breastmilk contains all the hydration an infant needs. for the same reason you carefully measure the amount of water you add to formula is the same reason you do not supplement breastfeeding with water. your infant's kidneys are not mature enough to balance its body's water to salt ratio. the outcome of overfeeding your infant water: seizures. breastmilk or formula, nothing else for 3-4 months.

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Steve Feb 28, 2011 08:21:21 PM ET

Milk already has enough water in it. no need to feel like the baby needs to be hydrated from a bottle of water, milk does that. water won't harm a 1 month old but it is not necessary unless a pediatrician instructs you to. just because you gave your baby water and nothing happened doesn't make you knowledgeable of what to and what not to give the baby. you don't want to have the same concept of everything else then make a mistake! babies react different from each other. children don't need to be taken chances on. you need to listen to your pediatrician! one who knows best! people we go through different revolutions as time passes. back in the day was back in the day, history corrects past events! just because your actions back in the day didn't do any harm doesn't mean it is still probable today. that's the whole point of research! to improve how and what was done back in the day! pediatricians today are a lot more trained than back in the day. so either listen to your pediatrician or burry your baby because of your "back in the day" concepts. good day

brenda Nov 13, 2013 06:42:17 PM ET

How self righteous you sound breast milk is just that milk and when you add milk powder to water it takes on a whole new set of properties and becomes milk powder plus water = milk you drink water if not you die same goes for a baby not very much water at a serving, just a couple of suckles from a bottle is plenty just enough to (to steal a phrase from another responder) and i quote "wet their whistle." without a small amount of water my child became constipated her doctor told me to give her a little bit of warm water and karo syrup and that worked and no it wasn't the karo syrup it was the warm water you need it to survive so do they, breast fed babies are different but formula babies, i totally agree a little bit is good.

Bill Dec 11, 2013 08:12:28 PM ET

Lol, this is so ridiculous. you people need to crack open a text book or go back to school. adding power to water does not change the properties of the water itself. babies do not need to drink water to survive. think about it - cups are a relatively recent invention. how would a baby even drink water in the old days? it can't get water from a river or stream

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Michelle Feb 27, 2011 10:50:55 PM ET

Breastmilk is 88% water. a breastfed baby does not need additional water. water dilutes the breastmilk in a baby's system, and you dont want the baby to fill up on water.

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P. HE Feb 21, 2011 02:09:19 PM ET

I am a grandmother of 6. the first time i heard babies don't need water, i was not at all happy. one reason water is beneficial is because it helps with excess mucus build-up. you cannot convince me there is enough h2o in formulas and breastmilk. our bodies need water. i gave my children water after every formula or breast milk feeding. it never hurt them. we need water whether we are young or old. what's going on with these pediatricians! every time they come up with these new ideas they are passed down to our children. i am thankful for our peds, but our children are not test animals. come on people, let's use wisdom!!! our babies need water!!!

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Alisha Mar 2, 2010 08:51:07 PM ET

I formula feed my 1 month old daughter right now and she wakes up every 1-2 hours and is screaming for more food until i break down and give it to her. she will then consume about 2 to a most likely 4. i am going to start giving her water just flavored by formula every other feeding. my best judgement is sure to not fail, so after researching for days this is my conclusion.

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