Accidentally Gave Newborn Water: Here’s What You Need to Know!

Written by Daisy
Last updated:
Reviewed by Margaret

The article has been reviewed by medical expert Margaret Dogwood, BSN, RN

A lot of parents panic and ask, I accidentally gave newborn water, is it dangerous? What should I do next? If you are part of this population – or if you just want to be prepared for the worst of cases, you are in for a treat!

We know that babies under six months of age get most of their nutrition and hydration from breast milk or formula, so, what if you give them water? That’s what this guide is all about! We’ll address the situation and discuss potential risks involved, give proper preventative measures, as well as the right solutions in case you encounter it!

The website’s general material is given for informative purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. This article has been reviewed by the necessary medical and healthcare professionals and departments that we work with. For emergencies, contact your local physician or certified healthcare provider RIGHT AWAY!

Infant Feeding: Breast Milk or Formula?

I don’t know about you, but honestly, I knew and understood that either breastfeeding or formula milk are the only things that your baby MUST consume if they haven’t set foot on their 6th month yet only when the doctor advised me.

I genuinely and honestly thought they were fine with water! As it turns out, this can be dangerous to them as it can cause intoxication. Furthermore, this can lessen or decrease their appetites, resulting in fewer vitamins and nutrients they absorb.

Alan Greene, M.D, FAAP, says that you should, as much as possible, refrain from giving your newborn water and that formula milk or breast milk is more than enough for them to gain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

             You should avoid giving your kid water before six months of age. Breast milk or formula satisfies all dietary requirements for health and development at this neonatal stage. Additionally, you don’t want to overhydrate your infant because she might not be hungry when it’s time for feedings.”

Newborn Babies and Water

While less feeding is the reason that is more looked at by experts and physicians, feeding your baby with water can also lead to problems like water intoxication. We don’t want that happening to our cute little munchkins, don’t we?

So, the correlation between newborns and water is deeper than just them “not being allowed to drink,” as it can have adverse health effects.

To help you understand it more and better, here’s a quick look at what water intoxication is!

What is Water Intoxication?

Don’t overcomplicate it – water intoxication is actually what you think it is. Often referred to as water poisoning or water overdose, is a potentially deadly illness that develops when someone drinks too much water, which causes an electrolyte imbalance in the body.

If not quickly diagnosed and treated, this ailment might be fatal. Furthermore, this happens when a person consumes a lot of water in a short amount of time, overriding the body’s capacity to properly remove the extra water. For newborns, though, that only has little thresholds, anything about 2 oz can, in fact, be dangerous.

CEO and Founder of StudyMed Christopher Carruba, M.D., says that excess water can disrupt serum electrolytes in the body and cause cells to become abnormal.

Water can reduce the concentration of serum electrolytes in the body, including sodium, potassium, and calcium when taken in excess. Drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia, or a reduction in sodium, especially in young infants.”

So, when that happens, it can lead to the body’s cells filling up with water. Trouble begins when your baby’s brain cells enlarge. If the situation is not resolved quickly, it may result in a rise in intracranial pressure, which may harm the brain.

I Accidentally Gave My Newborn Water: What Should I Do?

Let’s get to the horror of the scenario – you accidentally gave your newborn water or they accidentally drank water even if you didn’t intend for them to. What should you do now?

I am neither a pediatrician nor am I an expert in these situations. But upon careful checking from parents across the world and medical professionals. who share their expertise online!

Step #1: Stay Calm!

The first step you need to do is to keep calm. You wouldn’t be able to solve anything if you are panicking. I know that it can be worrisome and that the situation may turn out to be something you don’t like, but being calm will allow you to think better and more critically.

Step #2: Contact Your Pediatrician or Any Local Healthcare Professional

When you’ve calmed down, the next best step would be to contact your pediatrician. It would be best to contact your pediatrician for your baby so they know the situation with your little munchkin, but if they’re not available, any local healthcare professional would do.

Step #3: Strictly Follow Medical Advice

Whatever they tell you – follow it strictly. They can help you in many ways and make sure that you follow the steps they suggest and the solutions they’ll give you.

Mostly, they’ll provide steps and instructions on how to ease the situation until a medical professional is present to check up on them. So, be sure to follow their instructions carefully and thoroughly.

NOTE: They may ask for additional information. Be accurate in answering them as it will be for the benefit of your baby.

Step #4: Monitor Your Baby: Look For Signs and Symptoms of Water Intoxication

Lastly, try looking for signs and symptoms of water intoxication. Since babies have small bodies, it should be a short time for them to give feelings of distress and discomfort.

Be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms, list them down, or if you have the pediatrician on the line, let them know immediately.

Step #5: Drive Up to the Nearest Clinic

If the clinic is a sheer 5 to 10-minute drive, bring your baby to the nearest clinic immediately. Tell the doctor about the situation and be as detailed as possible.  

Have someone accompany you to check up on the baby every 2 to 3 minutes. You want to report this to the pediatrician as closely as you can!

These are the steps you want to take if you accidentally fed your newborn angel water. It’s usually not something to worry about, especially if they drank less than 2 oz, but it’s still a matter of danger!

Signs and Symptoms of Water Intoxication in Newborns and Babies

The initial symptoms and signs of water intoxication in newborns and babies slightly vary. However, the more common things to note would be the following:

  • Lower Than 97°F (36°C) Body Temperature
  • Exhibiting Indications Of Fatigue Or Drowsiness
  • Abnormally Light Or Transparent Urine
  • Breathing Irregularities
  • Unusually Many Wet Diapers
  • Uncharacteristic Fussiness Or Irritation
  • Swelling In The Arms, Legs, And Face, Among Other Extremities

Preventing Accidental Water Consumption: Tips For Parents

I mean, we can’t really be prepared for “accidents,” but there are a few tips and guidelines you can follow to avoid being in this situation alone.

  • Follow the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics or the AAP in introducing water to your babies.
  • Supervise your babies whenever they’re around water, especially during bath time. Never leave them unattended.
  • Avoid diluting breast milk with water.
  • Be sure to prepare bottles in the morning so you don’t get confused about which is which.
  • Always check what goes in your baby’s mouth. You can never be too sure!

FAQs

If you still have questions about it or if you’re left with a couple of items unaddressed, we listed some of the top and most-asked questions about it!

Can You Give Newborn Water For Hiccups?

No, it’s not advised to give newborns any form of liquids other than breast milk or formula milk before they turn six months. Some experts, however, say that gripe water could work, but this can lead to your baby consuming less breast milk, as well as having adverse effects on their health.

How Quickly Does Water Intoxication Happen In Babies?

Water intoxication can happen swiftly, and as parents, we need to look for signs and symptoms of it, which include dizziness, lethargy, behavioral changes, and confusion for some.

The Bottom Line

If you accidentally gave a newborn water, don’t panic! Just make sure you don’t do it again as it can be the cause of your little angel’s tummy issues, resulting in intoxication!

Follow the preventative measures we outlined and be free from worrying about giving your newborn water again! 

Photo of author
Daisy Martinez, a Certified Financial Planner and mother of two, blends finance expertise from Ohio State and Anderson School of Management with hands-on parenting insights. Founder of "mamallove.com" and "cashsavvytips.com", she's passionate about guiding parents in financial and parenting realms.

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