Do Babies Need Extra Water?

by Roberta Duyff, MS RDN FAND

Do Babies Need Extra Water?

Newborns need little or no extra water. Except for periods of hot weather when your baby perspires, breast milk or infant formula usually supply enough fluid. If water is needed, offer one to two ounces of plain water after a feeding; water shouldn't take the place of breast milk or formula. For safety's sake when your baby is less than four months of age, boil water first, then chill it or offer sterilized bottled water. When babies begin eating solid food, offer plain water.

Your child needs water to replace fluids lost through diarrhea or vomiting. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration – and it's complications – if fluids aren't replaced. Rather than water or juice, your doctor or pediatric nurse may recommend an oral electrolyte maintenance solution, sold near baby foods in your grocery store, to prevent dehydration. Besides fluid, the solution contains glucose (a form of sugar) and minerals (sodium, chloride and potassium) called electrolytes. Electrolytes help maintain fluid balance in your baby's body cells. These minerals are lost through body fluids.

Consult your doctor or pediatric nurse before feeding an oral electrolyte maintenance solution to children under two years of age (or older children, too). Besides the risk of dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting signal possible illness that may require medical attention! If diarrhea, vomiting or fever persist longer than 24 hours, consult your doctor or pediatric nurse. An electrolyte maintenance solution won't stop diarrhea or vomiting, but it does prevent dehydration.

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About the author:

Roberta L Duyff MS RDN FAND

Roberta Duyff, MS RDN FAND

Author of "Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Fourth Edition" and "365 Days of Healthy Eating from the American Dietetic Association" (both published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey).




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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