As adults, we know that we need to consume six to eight glasses of water — around 2 litres of fluids a day — to stay adequately hydrated. However, the same can’t be said of your baby, where milk makes up most of her daily liquid intake.
Notes SmartParents expert Dr Low Kah Tzay, a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric and Child Development Clinic, “As long as they [babies] drink whatever amount they desire, it is very unlikely to cause over feeding. Mothers should not replace milk feeds with water.”
So, how much fluids does your baby actually need to stay comfortably hydrated? Jaclyn Reutens, a dietitian with Aptima Nutrition and Sports Consultants, gives details on how much liquid your baby should be consuming:
Infographics: Lim Jae-Lynn
Water makes up some 70 per cent of your infant’s body weight, compared with 60 per cent for an adult. So, they’ll need to consume sufficient liquids when they’re outdoors. You’ll need to ensure that your munchkin doesn’t suffer severe dehydration, which can result in heat stroke and prove fatal.
Signs of dehydration
Signs of severe dehydration include rapid breathing, heartbeat, extreme fussiness, fever and passing very little urine. Baby MUST get immediate medical attention! Reutens says that a body temperature above 40 deg C, nausea or vomiting are signs of heat stroke. Your kid may even fall into a coma, experience seizures, or worse, brain damage!
Look out for these early warning signs of dehydration:
* Urine Your kid’s urine is both the easiest and most reliable indicator of their hydration levels. The more yellow his pee, the more dehydrated he is. Sometimes, it might even be pink in colour, says Dr Low. Conversely, if his pee is light yellow or very pale — almost transparent — in colour and doesn’t smell, he’s well hydrated.
* Sunken fontanelles The fontanelle — there are four on baby’s head — is a soft spot where the bones of bubba’s skull have yet to fuse. The anterior fontanelle (front of your little one’s head) can sink in if baby’s dehydrated. If it is, you should seek medical attention immediately!
* Body temperature If baby’s skin feels hot to your touch, it could be a sign of heat injury. Other signs include muscle cramps, loss of consciousness and irritability.
* Dryness Look out for signs like a dry mouth and tongue, says Dr Low. Do also keep an eye out for wrinkly skin. Do this simple test to see if baby’s skin springs back quickly after getting pinched — if it doesn’t, baby’s dehydrated.
* Decreased urine output Such as when he hasn’t had a wet diaper in six hours. Look out, too, if there’s a sudden drop in the number of times you had change bubba’s diapers. Less pee and fewer diaper changes may mean that he’s dehydrated.
* Constipation If his stools start to resemble brown pellets or round lumps, he might be experiencing constipation. If your munchkin is drinking formula, check that you aren’t giving too much powder.
* No tears when crying This, coupled with sunken eyes, suggest that baby may be suffering from severe dehydration.
Your kid’s urine is both the easiest and most reliable indicator of their hydration levels. The more yellow his pee, the more dehydrated he is. Sometimes, it might even be pink in colour.
If you are planning to head out, Dr Low advises that you avoid exposing baby to direct sunlight, especially from the midday sun. Dress him in loose and thin clothing together with a cap ― don’t forget the brolly for yourself either!
Reutens notes that giving your baby too much water is dangerous. When babies under 6 months suffer water intoxication (when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by overhydration), it can be fatal. This because their kidneys are still not fully developed and unable to efficiently handle excess water.
She says, “Any excess water will dilute the electrolyte levels [in baby’s body] and “push” water into the brain resulting in seizures, coma, and possibly, death!” Signs of water intoxication include extreme drowsiness, irritability, a low body temperature and unusual muscle twitches ― seek medical attention immediately!
Jaclyn Reutens is a dietitian with Aptima Nutrition and Sports Consultants. Dr Low Kah Tzay, is a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric and Child Development Clinic.
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