While drinking more water is a good idea for everyone,
especially during hot summer months, too much water can be
harmful to infants 6 months old and younger. According to a
study in Clinicians Reviews a 1997 survey of new mothers
found that nearly 25 percent give their babies water at
least 3 times per week in the first month of life.
Water intoxication is rare in children and adults who are
able to judge their own water needs by thirst and activity.
But babies are not able to do this. Also, the kidneys of
newborns filter more slowly than those of older infants,
causing sodium levels in the blood to be diluted.
According to doctors, 24 cases of water intoxication were
reported at the St. Louis Children's Hospital in the years
1989 to 1991. The problem seems to be increasing since only
10 cases were reported from 1985 to 1988. In the cases
reported the otherwise healthy babies were 4 to 5 months old
and drank three 8-oz. bottles of water within 6 to 12 hours.
Symptoms of water intoxication include pale urine, using
more than 8 diapers a day, and baby sleeping more than usual
and being difficult to wake up.
Mothers should be advised that healthy infants get all the
water they need in breast milk or formula.
A baby can get water intoxication as a result of drinking
several bottles of water a day or from drinking infant
formula that has been diluted too much.
Water fills baby without adding calories, so water
supplementation can result in weight loss or insufficient
weight gain for the baby.
Pediatricians advise feeding babies 2 to 3 oz. more than
their age in months at each feeding. For example, babies 4
months old would be fed 6 to 7 oz. three times a day. More
than 8 oz. at any one feeding rarely necessary. The usual
proportions of milk to water should be about two-thirds milk
to one-third water. With these proportions, the baby
receives about 8 oz of water equally spaced over a 24 hour
period. If the formula is diluted, mild should not be less
than 50 percent.
Only around seven months of age, when baby has started
eating solid foods, should a little water be introduced in a
Water intoxication can be prevented by following your
For more information on water and it's healthy benefits for
old and young alike: http://www.apluswriting.net/health/babywater.htm
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Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.