How much water should a baby drink?

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Water is vital for children’s development, for a normal metabolism and to support the immune system. Water is the main component of the human body. However, the child up to six months and even more does not need water in his daily diet, under the conditions of a correct diet. The statement may seem strange, given that the fluid intake that a child needs in the first months of life (up to six months and even more) is higher than in older children (over one year) and this is because the body surface is much larger in relation to the weight, and water losses, through sweat and urine, are important. In addition, the child’s kidneys up to one year (and especially in the first six months of life) are immature, which is why babies urinate often to manage to eliminate toxins from the body and, therefore, water losses are greater. However, the properly fed baby, both up to six months and after, does not need water or needs supplementary water, but in a very small amount. The introduction of water into the child’s diet is done only after six months, and then on the recommendation of the doctor who follows the child and in the amount established by him. Few people know that water can cause an imbalance in the metabolism of a child younger than six months, whether it is water from the drinking water network (boiled and cooled beforehand) or whether it is mineral water.

The first is devoid of minerals and can cause an exaggerated and dangerous dilution of the minerals necessary for the child’s development, while the second can produce an excess of minerals. Any of these options is harmful and puts the child’s kidneys to the test.

Mother’s milk provides all the necessary liquids that the baby needs, in its composition water represents 87-89%. In situations where the baby under six months needs an increased water intake (heat, diarrhea, fever, vomiting) the child will be breastfed more often, and the mother will take care to drink enough fluids to be able to support the child’s needs .

Additional hydration of the child under six months is done only with the doctor’s recommendation and then special solutions containing rehydration salts are used because, in addition to water, large amounts of minerals are lost (especially through vomiting and diarrhea), and the intake of “plain” water leads to an extra dilution of them and serious damage to many organs, especially the kidneys and brain, and can even lead to convulsions.

Artificially fed babies younger than six months do not need water supplements either (and no teas, other than those recommended by the doctor), as long as the milk powder is prepared correctly and the child is properly fed. The great risk for artificially fed babies is that of milk concentrations that are too high than those recommended, which produces an imbalance between the intake of nutrients and that of water with harmful effects (kidney damage, obesity).

Unlike the naturally fed baby, where the liquid intake is automatically regulated, breast milk being an intelligent food that adapts to the child’s momentary needs, the artificially fed infant can receive when necessary (heat, diarrheal diseases, vomiting, fever) water supplements (ideally water and not tea), but in small amounts, administered at regular time intervals, for example 1-2 teaspoons of water every 15-30 minutes, two-four times, in two-three sessions per day. Anyway, the additional amounts of water for the child under six months should be established only with the pediatrician, depending on the needs.

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