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Should Babies Have Water?

Dr. Christine Wood, M.D


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

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Guest Apr 18, 2018 04:02:58 PM ET

I have 7 children and none of them were the same. breastfed all and had the same doctor for all of them. When my 2nd was 2 months old he would just cry, he was fed ,dry,and warm but not happy. Doctor said give him an ounce of water, a teaspoon of Karo syrup. Did this just before his bed time feeding. Was never a long crying night again. Babies are all different so are doctors. All of my children got small amounts of water but, I watched for any changes in urine color and believe it or not smell, just like my doctor told me too . Time hasn't changed, people have. And I, for one, am so glad I have an old school doctor who said you go by the child not by a book.

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Guest Oct 12, 2017 04:34:38 PM ET

There is no reason for arguments. None of us, myself included, has ever stepped into a lab or done any testing, but experience is a good teacher and that's what I lay my hat on, history. There is no wrong or right, there's only misinformed. We should all go back and check our parents and grandparents history. You'll find that coming from the same gene pool helps with your decisions. Besides, each and every baby is different. What works for one may not work for another. Ladies we are in this together, so we should listen to one another instead of bashing each other, because I feel I can learn something from each one of you. Besides, that's what discussions are all about, putting our ideas together for the good of the children. Let us not sound like a bunch of men, mines bigger than yours conversation. Smile and a blessed day to you all.

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Cece Jun 6, 2017 01:19:54 AM ET

I am giving my 6 month old water for two days and one Gatorade added water because she didn't have any milk. Now all she does is cry after I give her milk.

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grandmother, mother and mother-in-law Oct 1, 2016 01:45:23 AM ET

Pediatricians may know their medicine but there's nothing better then experience. My daughter in law's OB/GYN had her schedule an indication date and was okay with it being five days before her due date. I call a friend of mine and also researched it and that is totally discouraged by the American College of OB/Gyn. BTW the elective induction is only for convenience and to accommodate schedules. As far as I can see in a lot of todays medical community are doing "things" for convenience and to accommodate schedules. As far as water, I believe the baby does get a good amount of water with breast milk and formula; however, water does help with constipation and is vital to life. The point is the baby might not need the water but it is not going to hurt the baby. I can hardly see a baby drinking too much water; nevertheless, babies do not usually over indulge and it might be asking your pediatricians. My advice is lighten up on grandmothers, mothers and mother-in-laws, aside from issues you might have with one of them, they are after all, in most cases, not stupid.

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swetea51 Feb 4, 2015 05:57:50 AM ET

I am a mother of 5 and a grandmother of 9. I gave one of my children water when she was a month old. I gave it to her for colic. I didn't give it for hydration. It helped her burp. This child wouldn't sleep well at all. My pediatrician told me to let her cry herself to sleep. She was 6 months old at this point. I listened to him and regretted it, because she fell asleep with her feet in the slats of the bed and her head against the slats. Doctors are not always right. That same doctor gave me ear drops for one of my children. That made her worse. I ended up taking her back and saw his associate. That one said, that was the wrong thing to give her. Doctors don't always know what is right, I'm sorry to disagree with you younger mothers out there.

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Guest Mar 20, 2014 09:22:52 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?

Guest Jan 2, 2017 04:47:28 AM ET

Add a very little amount of sugar to it and try to let the water be room temperature as well.

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sheryl Mar 8, 2013 03:52:41 AM 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 10:18:40 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 06:36:41 PM ET

Whats wrong with wetting the little ones whistle once in a while. 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 07:01:35 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

Over 23+ with babies Oct 12, 2017 04:16:43 PM ET

It is ok to give your baby an ounce a day. i did it, mother did it, my grandmother and her mother. never had any problems as a matter of fact the baby bowel movements were normal with breastfeed and formula feed babies. i done my own studies which started with my children. i know for a fact in dealing with my children's pediatrician. that most of the doc. that we deal with either have no children or learned everything out of a book. each child is different. in the 60's - 90's you had very few babies with allergies, asthma and diseases. i side with the older generation. my people lived off the land (indians) and breastfeeding was your only option and even water was given to the babies at 2 months old an ounce a day. now who in there right mind would give a baby a full bottle of water is beyond me. i have to agree with the grandmother that stated doc's are not always right. as a matter of fact you have a lot of doc's that are either using the old remedies for their children are going back to the old remedies. try asking your doc. why not give water to your infant and i guarantee he will give you a textbook answer, try it and don't let people lead you like cattle, go back and check you history, speak to your parents and grandparents please. oh, one more thing, doc's are practitioners there are no such thing as experts if there were we would all be cure from whatever ailments we have. they practice at your expense. today there are only business men and women not doctors unless you have a doc. from the older generation that really cares for his patients and not the bottom line. this personal experience. i've sued one doc., another one lost his license for cutting corners to save money and one lost his practice for giving my son the wrong medication and got sicker, thank god the babysitter i had at the time was a retired registered nurse and she caught the mistake. all this in a 51 years span so doc's need to be questioned at all times, because you never know.

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