As a new mom, your resources for advice are endless. You probably feel inundated with the endless bounds of books, websites, radio shows, TV shows, and studies that people have been sending you. You certainly appreciate the help, but sometimes the advice is conflicting, and it can be difficult to know which resource to trust. Every resource might tell you something different, but you’ve probably read that drinking water is very bad for your baby. This is true, no matter what book or website you’re relying on. A newborn baby only needs breast milk or formula. Though the breast milk and formula is essentially his or her food, it also contains the essential hydration required to sustain life. You don’t need to give your baby any extra water when he or she is just an infant. However, you might be surprised when he or she starts drinking bathwater. No matter what, this behavior shouldn’t make you question your baby’s need for water in his or her daily diet.

Your baby might drink bathwater when he or she realizes how much fun it actually is. For an infant, every sensation is brand new, so the feeling of swallowing bathwater is simply too exciting to ignore. It’s reasonable for parents to become concerned about the behavior, but it’s actually perfectly standard. Though your baby shouldn’t be drinking large amounts of water, a few sips of bathwater every now and then is not a problem. The behavior should be discouraged so that a more realistic idea of bath time is developed, but the bathwater itself will not cause any problems. If the water soapy enough to cause stomach issues, your newborn will spit it out anyway. Though many of your baby’s bodily and digestive processes are not fully developed as a newborn, taste is inherent, and your baby will know when the when the water isn’t safe to drink.

Of course, speak with your doctor about giving your baby water for the first time. It can interfere with digestion if your baby is too young, but it is essential for babies that are old enough and ready. If your baby should be drinking water, you should make sure you are giving him or her clean water to sip outside of the bath time setting. Though the water in the tub is safe, it’s obviously not the best solution for pure hydration for your child.

Source: Maria Noonan: Breastfeeding: Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?. British Journal of Midwifery Volume 19 Issue 2 pp. 82-89 February 2011

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