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How much water do babies need to drink?

Asked by Connie Ortiz, Milford, Connecticut

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Asked by How much water do babies need to drink?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. The short answer is, it depends on the age of the baby.

Infants under 6 months do not need any extra water because they get all the fluid they need from breast milk or formula. A sip here and there if the baby has hiccups is fine, but too much water can fill the baby up and take the place of nutritious breast milk or formula. Also, babies can get a condition called "water intoxication" from drinking too much water to the exclusion of their milk (or if too much water is added when mixing formula), causing a potentially dangerous electrolyte imbalance.

From 6 to 12 months, babies do not need much water but introducing some in a bottle or sippy cup can help them get used to the taste (or lack thereof) and consistency of the liquid. Limiting water to about 2 to 4 ounces per day is the typical recommendation as babies make the transition from an all-liquid diet to one involving solids, although some babies may benefit from closer to 6 to 8 ounces per day (such as in the case of constipation or extremely hot and humid weather).

After 12 months of age, a good rule of thumb is to offer milk with meals and water at most other times for thirst. This practice ensures that babies get enough calcium as well as fluids in general. Keep in mind that we get about 20 percent of our fluid requirements from foods so it's not necessary for babies (or most adults, for that matter) to drink 8 glasses of water a day. If the baby's urine is a pale yellow color, he or she is probably getting enough hydration.

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