Babies younger than six months old should never be given water to drink, physicians at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore remind parents. 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, Anders 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.
Water as a beverage should be completely off limits to babies six months old and younger, Anders and her colleagues say. Parents should also avoid using over-diluted formula, or pediatric drinks containing electrolytes.