The deadly reason you should never give your baby extra water
Never dilute breast milk, formula with water
Desperation or neglect, whatever the reason the story is devastating.
In the wake a baby is dead and her mom has been charged with her murder. In addition, the baby’s dad has been charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to a child for diluting their baby’s breast milk with water, then refusing to take the child for medical care.
By the time they did take her to the hospital, she was already dead.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. I remember a similar case from years ago in which a child’s family was desperate for money and thought they could use extra water to make their formula last longer. In a study from Clinical Pediatrics, up to 25 percent of families considered “food-insecure” admitted to using various methods to make their formula last longer.
The problem is that extra water is not safe for babies. It causes the sodium level in their blood to drop. Low sodium will lead to brain swelling which can cause poor feeding, lethargy, seizure and eventually death.
Giving free water to babies is not just an issue of formula stretching. Families commonly ask during the summer months if their babies need extra water due to the heat. The answer is NO!
Some reasons babies don’t need water:
- Breast milk and formula is mostly water (80-90 percent). Babies don’t get thirsty. Their diet is primarily liquid.
- Water does not have nutrition or electrolytes babies need. If a baby is going to be drinking something, why not make it be something that can help them grow?
Babies can safely start to drink some water after six months but they still don’t need a lot. They can get one to three ounces during their meals if parents want to introduce and practice with a sippy cup.
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click here to make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.