When Should Your Baby Start Drinking Water?

If you're a new parent to an infant, you may be wondering at what age you can start letting your baby drink water. As it turns out, however, infants don't actually need water to stay hydrated, according to WebMD. While many adults view water as the most hydrating and thirst-quenching beverage available, other liquids are better suited for babies. Since infants get all their hydration through breast milk and formula, they don't need water the same way that adults do. As a matter of fact, drinking water can be quite dangerous for newborns.

That's because it's very easy to accidentally give your infant too much water to drink, which can lead to serious health issues, like malnutrition and water intoxication — a potentially fatal condition that causes an imbalance of sodium or electrolyte levels in the body. Characterized by confusion, drowsiness, muscle cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting, water intoxication can result in seizures, brain damage, coma, and even death.

Babies can start drinking water at 6 months old

Because of the risk of water intoxication, it's important to wait until your baby is at least 6 months old before giving them water. As infants grow, their bodies start to mature, as do their vital organs, including their kidneys. "Until the age of 6 months, a baby's kidneys are too immature to correctly filter plain water, leaving the baby susceptible to water intoxication," Dr. Natasha Burgert, a Kansas City-based pediatrician and the author of KCKidsDoc.com, told Insider. By 6 months of age, however, their kidneys should be mature enough to give them water without too much concern about water intoxication.

However, you should still only give your infant a very small amount of water from time to time. At that age, they should still be drinking formula or breast milk as their primary source of hydration and nutrients. Any water they drink should be in addition to this. In other words, water should never be used to replace these nutritional beverages within the first year of life. The goal is just to get them accustomed to drinking a few sips of water.