You know that you’re supposed to drink at least eight glasses of water every day to stay hydrated. Most of the time, your body craves it, and the hydration is pleasant. Especially on hot days, a cold glass of water is refreshing and satiating. While it’s important that your newborn baby stays hydrated too, you should not be giving him or her water. Newborn babies get hydration from the milk they drink, whether it’s breast milk or formula. By the same token, you should trust that the milk alone is enough and never add more than the recommended amount of water to any formula. Doing so could cause serious problems.

When a baby gets too much water, he or she will have trouble absorbing the important nutrients from formula or breast milk. As with adults, too much water can make a baby feel full before he’s consumed enough nutrients. While this is a popular dieting technique for adults trying to lose weight, it’s obviously dangerous for a baby who needs full servings of food to grow and develop properly.

A baby’s body is also a delicate balance of different nutrients. When you give yours too much water, he might actually come down with a condition called water intoxication. The condition comes on when the amount of water in the body dilutes the proper amount of sodium causing swelling in the tissues. The condition is potentially fatal, so don’t add too much water to your baby’s formula and never give him a glass of water if he seems thirsty.

If you think your baby might be dehydrated, contact your doctor immediately. In the case of a dehydrating condition such as gastroenteritis, your baby might need added hydration from a different formula. However, a doctor should only make such decisions.

While it might seem surprising, regular breastfeeding or formula is enough to keep your baby satiated and hydrated. Until he or she switches to solid foods, water is not a necessary part of the diet. You might have heard that doctors give babies sugar water during immunizations to keep them happy, but that is an old practice and few doctors do so now. Research shows that sugar is bad for newborns, and even a few sips of water can upset the delicate balance of the body. Keeping your baby hydrated in the first six months is as easy as feeding him mother's milk.

Source: Rachel Cramton et al: Optimizing Successful Breastfeeding In The Newborn. Current Opinion in Pediatrics Volume 21 Issue 3 June 2009