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While drinking water is essential for kids and adults, it's advised to not give your baby water until they are six months old. Up until this stage, babies receive all the nutrients and hydration they need from breast milk or formula and do not need extra fluids, even when it's hot.
From six months old, start to offer your little one a free-flow or sippy cup of water with each meal. Tap water is preferred (as consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines) but this should be boiled and cooled for infants until 12 months of age.
From six months, begin to offer a free-flow or sippy cup of water with each meal. (Image: Getty Images.)
Giving water to babies younger than six months puts them at risk of infection if the water is not clean. It could also cause your baby to drink less milk and miss out on the nutrition they need.
In some extreme cases, when a baby consumes a large amount of water, a condition known as water intoxication can occur. This is when sodium in the baby's bloodstream becomes diluted, causing tissues to swell and leading to dangerous interference with brain activity.
As well as water, breast milk or formula will continue to provide important nutrients once your baby is eating solid foods. As your baby eats more solid foods they will demand fewer breast milk or formula feeds. However, take care not to replace milk feeds too quickly with solid foods.
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Why water is essential for kids:
• Water is important for good health – it helps digest food, absorb nutrients and get rid of waste from the body.
• Give kids water with all meals and snacks.
• Pack water bottles when going out.
• Keep a jug of clean tap water nearby.
• In hot weather – keep the jug of water cool.
• Let older kids pour their own water.
• Kids can dehydrate very quickly and get very sick if they don't drink regularly throughout the day. Make sure there is always plenty of clean drinking water available.