We discuss when it’s okay for your baby to drink water. We also look at how to keep your baby hydrated in hot weather.
When can my baby have water?
Young babies under six months won’t usually need to have any water or extra drinks, other than their usual milk (NHS Choices, 2017).
I breastfeed my baby so do they need extra water in hot weather?
Babies who are breastfed won't need water until they’re around six months old (NHS Choices, 2017).
"When you breastfeed your baby and they’ve started eating solid foods, you can offer them water out of a cup as well as breastfeeding frequently."
Even in hot weather, you won’t usually need to offer your baby water if you feed them breastmilk. They will just breastfeed more frequently if they need to. Babies who are breastfed can feed more frequently because the energy content of breastmilk changes according to their feeds.
I feed my baby formula milk so do they need extra water in hot weather?
If you feed your baby formula milk, you might need to offer them water in hot weather as well as the milk. Make sure you boil and cool the water before you give it to them (NHS Choices, 2017).
How do I know my baby’s getting enough to drink?
In hot weather, it’s important to offer your baby frequent milk feeds, whether you are breastfeeding, formula feeding or both. In very hot weather, it’s important babies drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
In general, your baby is getting enough to drink if they have at least six heavy, wet nappies every 24 hours. This should be the case from when your baby is five days old, as long as they’re happy and alert, and they’re feeding frequently. You can find out more in our how can I tell my baby is feeding well article.
When can my baby drink tap water?
Babies under six months should only drink tap water that has been boiled and cooled down. Water straight from the tap is not sterile so is not suitable for younger babies.
Once your baby is six months old, you can offer them water straight from the tap in a beaker or cup. They’d have this as well as their usual milk (NHS Choices, 2017; Oral Health Foundation, 2017).
Can my baby or toddler drink bottled water?
Bottled water is not recommended for babies or toddlers as it may contain too much salt or sulphate.
Water and milk are good options
Older babies and toddlers who have drinks like squash or juice during the day may fill up on calories from these drinks. This reduces their appetite for milk or solids, and can make it difficult for them to get enough nutrients. It might also lead to deficiencies over time, especially a lack of iron, which can cause anaemia (NHS Choices, 2017; Oral Health Foundation, 2017).
It’s a good idea to simply offer your baby water to drink, as well as their regular milk feeds.
Taking care of your baby’s teeth
Squash and fruit juice are high in sugar and can contribute to tooth decay. Fruit juice is often seen as a healthy alternative to squash, but it still contains sugars and acids that can harm tooth enamel (Oral Health Foundation, 2017). Children under three years of age should not have anything with artificial sweeteners in it (Oral Health Foundation, 2017).
If you want to offer squash or juice to your child, only give it to them sparingly, well diluted, and as part of meal times. Whole fruit juice is a better option than squash. Find out more in our taking care of your baby’s teeth article.
This page was last reviewed in October 2017
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
NHS Choices has information on how you can look after your baby’s teeth.
NHS Choices. (2017) Drinks and Cups for Babies and Toddlers. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/drinks-and-cups-children.aspx [Accessed 1st October 2017].
Oral Health Foundation. (2017) Caring for teeth: Children’s teeth. Available from: https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/caring-for-teeth/childrens-teeth [Accessed 1st October 2017].
NHS Choices. (2016) Sterilising baby bottles. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/sterilising-bottles.aspx [Accessed 1st October 2017].
Zimmerman E,Thompson K. (2015) Clarifying nipple confusion. J Perinatol. 35(11):895-9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26181720 [Accessed 1st October 2017].