I have been trying to drink 8 glasses of water a day since as long as I can remember. It’s the perfect beverage. It fills you up, keeps your skin beautiful, and most importantly keeps your body functioning efficiently.
When I was pregnant, I remember reading that water is not healthy for infants, especially infants under 6 months of age. I just assumed it was because an infant might fill up on the water and not want nutrient rich breast milk or formula, but my assumption was incorrect.
According to physicians at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, consuming too much water can put babies at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication.
Because babies’ kidneys aren’t yet mature, giving them too much water causes their bodies to release sodium along with excess water, Dr. Jennifer Anders, a pediatric emergency physician at the center said. Losing sodium can affect brain activity, so early symptoms of water intoxication can include irritability, drowsiness and other mental changes. Other symptoms include low body temperature (generally 97 degrees or less), puffiness or swelling in the face, and seizures.
Dr. Anders, said early symptoms are subtle, so seizures may be the first symptom a parent notices. But if a child gets prompt medical attention, the seizures will probably not have lasting consequences. Water as a beverage should be completely off limits to babies six months old and younger, Parents should also avoid using over-diluted formula, or pediatric drinks containing electrolytes, she added.
Dr. Anders said it may be appropriate in some cases to give older infants a small amount of water; for example to help with constipation or in very hot weather, but parents should always check with their pediatrician before doing so, and should only give the baby an ounce or two of water at a time.
If you think your child may have water intoxication, contact a medical professional immediately.