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Q : Is it true that newborns who are being breastfed can’t be fed with plain water? And that it can lead to water intoxication?

A :
Parents are advised not to feed water to their newborns, regardless whether they are breastfeeding or feeding formula milk. This is because a newborn’s stomach has a very small capacity, and feeding the baby with water may cause the child to feel satiated and not drink milk. Nutrition in newborns is extremely important as they are going through rapid growth, hence milk should always be preferentially given to provide for adequate nutrients and calories.

Drinking water excessively may cause water intoxication in newborns. Excessive water, which may occur when milk is diluted, may lead to low blood sodium levels. This is potentially dangerous as it can lead to seizures and even death. However, a sip or two of water will not cause such worry.

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About the Author
Dr Yang Linqi is a Paediatrician with a special interest in Paediatric Cardiology. She is currently one of the anchor doctors at Thomson Paediatric Centre. She is also a visiting specialist at Khoo Teck Puat-National University Children’s Medical Institute (KTP-NUCMI), National University Hospital, Singapore.

Read more about her.

Dr Yang Linqi
Paediatrician
Thomson Paediatric Centre

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