Introducing Water into your Baby’s Diet

Your baby doesn’t really need any other drinks other than their usual milk feeds in the first six months. Fully breastfed babies don’t need any water until they’ve started eating solid foods. Small amounts of cooled, boiled water can be given as an extra fluid to formula fed babies in the early months, perhaps in warmer weather.

For this, use water from the mains tap in the kitchen. You need to boil then cool the tap water as it’s not sterile straight from the tap. If your tap water isn’t suitable to drink, bottled water can be used as an alternative. When choosing a brand of bottled water, check the label to make sure that the sodium (also written as Na) level is less than 20 (mg) per litre. Like tap water, bottled water isn’t sterile, so it will need to be boiled before you use it to prepare a feed. Always use boiled water at a temperature of at least 70oC when you prepare a feed and follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Remember to let the feed cool before you give it to your baby.

Although some guidance advises that water should be boiled and cooled up until the first 6 months, the latest recommendation advises that all water offered to a baby should be cooled, boiled water right up until they are 12 months of age.

When weaning comes around, you can prepare your baby’s first foods with breastmilk, formula milk or cooled, boiled water until you achieve a consistency that is smooth and runny. Fruit juices are not needed but if you do choose to offer juices on certain occasions, only small amounts of well-diluted, unsweetened fruit juice. So to prepare this, you can dilute 1 measure of pure juice to 8-10 measures of cooled, boiled water). You could try using a beaker at mealtimes or with their little snacks from 6 months onwards.

If your baby is experiencing constipation and already taking the recommended amount of milk feeds, it’s possible that they need additional fluid, or cooled, boiled water. For babies less than 6 months, you could offer 30-60mls 1-2 times a day. For babies from 6 months, you could offer 60-120mls 2 a day and add stewed fruit, cooked vegetables, or cereals to help create movement in the bowel. Always talk to your healthcare professional if symptoms do not resolve.

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