If you have a baby or are expecting one, you’ve probably stumbled across something on the internet warning you that giving water to your baby could be fatal.
That’s a pretty alarming concept, so BuzzFeed spoke to registered dietitian Katie Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic, who told us five things parents should know about water and their babies:
#1: Babies don't need water...at all.
"Babies under the age of 1 don’t need water," Zeratsky says. "They get all of their fluid needs through human milk or infant formula. Even on a hot day they can get all of their hydration needs through human milk or formula."
#2: Babies shouldn't drink water (especially before six months of age).
"We don’t want babies to fill up on water because it would make them miss out on key nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat intake. Human milk and formula are meant to be the mainstay of their nutritional intake because it is such an important time for a baby's growth. Babies are growing so rapidly that their energy needs compared to ours, pound for pound, are much higher."
#3: It is possible for a baby to die from drinking too much water.
"Water intoxication is where you consume too much water in a short period of time and your blood level of sodium drops…making a tragic situation," Zeratsky says. "In the adult world, you would have to push yourself past thirst and regulation to a point where you almost have to force intake.
"In terms of a baby, in most cases they would get too full to do this, so it would be more challenging to create this situation in an infant. It's not impossible, though."
#4: If your baby accidentally ingests a little water you shouldn't freak out.
"If your baby drinks a small amount of water it’s probably okay in the larger picture. If it were, for example, one feeding out of a 24-hour period, the kidneys would be able to correct the sodium imbalance. You’ll probably have a hungry baby down the road, though."
#5: Parents who formula feed should always follow the mixing instructions.
"The only time you shouldn’t follow the mixing instructions is when your baby is under the supervision of a physician or medical team (and in that scenario your baby would have a condition requiring it). Mixing formula that is too diluted (or even too concentrated) can have negative implications down the road."