Baby doesn’t drink enough: what should I do?

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” Babies drink until they are full “. A well-intentioned, but very vague statement when asked which amount to drink is recommended for infants. It is of course very important for parents that their little darling drinks enough fluids. But how much should babies drink and what to do if they don’t drink enough?

In this article you will get the answers to your questions and we will provide you with valuable tips and tricks to encourage your baby to drink. We also go into typical signs that can indicate a lack of fluids in babies.

How much does a baby have to drink?

The right amount to drink for infants is a complex matter and, especially with the first child, the uncertainty among the new parents is great. So that your baby drinks enough in the first few weeks and months of life, it should first and foremost be put on regularly and frequently. Midwives and other experts recommend eight breastfeeding meals over 24 hours. If your child craves the breast or their bottle more often, this is perfectly fine.

If your baby only gets breast milk or bottle formula, you usually don’t have to worry that he or she will drink too much. In the worst case, the excess milk ends up on your top or burp cloth after the peasant. Also, let your baby drink until they undock from your breast or deflate their bottle on their own. So you can be sure that your child has drunk enough and is no longer hungry or thirsty. How do you like the article so far?

Unfortunately, there is currently no rating for the entry: Baby drinks too little: What should I do ?! If you like it, please rate it!Good to know:On average, infants drink one sixth of their body weight per day for the first four to six months and before the introduction of complementary foods.

In the first four to six months of life, breast milk or infant formula is both food and drink for babies. Additional fluid is only advisable in exceptional cases , such as diarrhea or fever, and is best after consultation with the pediatrician. If the child is healthy and is regularly breastfed, the fluid intake through breast milk or the bottle is completely sufficient and there is no need to offer additional water or tea.

Only with the introduction of the third meal (cereal and fruit pulp) is the milk no longer sufficient and the children need additional water. The following applies: the more complementary food is fed, the more liquid is required in addition to breastfeeding or the bottle. Your baby is likely to drink little at first, but don’t worry about it. With the changed composition of complementary foods and with increasing age, your child will want to drink more often on their own. It is important to offer something to drink regularly.

As a rule of thumb : With the introduction of the third complementary food, babies need about half a liter of liquid, including breast milk or bottle feeding. With the transition from solid foods to solid family foods, the children should drink around 200 ml more per day. As soon as the family diet has been successfully introduced and complementary food has ended, between 600 ml and 700 ml should be consumed throughout the day and with meals.Good to know:The more complementary meals are introduced, the more liquids the children need in addition to the milk meals.

Signs that your baby is drinking enough

Of course, one way to do this is to weigh the baby before and after docking to see if you’ve been drinking enough. Midwives do not recommend the method, however, as it exerts too much stress and pressure and is simply not necessary for healthy children. It is quite sufficient for the midwife to check the baby’s weight during her regular home visits. If it is then determined that the weight is being gained too slowly and too little, a test weighing can be carried out with special baby scales after consultation with the midwife or pediatrician.

We have put together the typical signs for you at a glance, which you can assume healthy and adequate drinking behavior in your baby:

  • Skin has a rosy and healthy skin tone
  • About six to eight wet diapers per day
  • The chair is soft and shaped
  • The baby is cheerful and curious
  • The baby is steadily gaining weight and growing
  • The fontanel has not sunk

Beware of too much liquid

As long as the babies are fully breastfed and have not yet received any solid food, no additional fluid is usually required. The fluid requirement is optimally covered by breast milk or bottle feeding. Too much liquid in the form of water or tea can even be dangerous for the infants, because in the first months of life the kidneys of the newborns are not yet mature and are in the developmental stage. The kidneys are not yet able to properly process and filter “unknown” fluids. This can lead to an imbalance in the sodium balance and, in the worst case, there is a risk of water poisoning (water intoxication), which can manifest itself, among other things, with seizures in the baby.

But there is not only the risk of water poisoning: Additional fluids disrupt the natural principle of supply and demand when breastfeeding. If the thirst is quenched with water or tea, the baby automatically drinks less and, as a result, too little milk is produced. In addition, the baby mainly drinks the thirst-quenching foremilk and is not adequately supplied with the satiating hindmilk, which in turn can lead to an insufficient supply.

If your baby has a fever, diarrhea, a gastrointestinal infection or if the temperature is high, water or tea may be offered. In order not to take any risks, however, you should definitely contact your midwife or pediatrician in advance.Please note:In the first months of life, caution should be exercised if the fluid intake is too high, as the kidneys are not yet mature and are growing. Water should not be offered until the third complementary meal.

Which drinks are suitable for babies?

In addition to breast milk or bottle food, still mineral or tap water is the best drink for babies and toddlers. You do not have to buy bought and therefore bottled mineral water especially for infants and toddlers, because German drinking water is of very high quality and usually does not have to be boiled. It is sufficient if you let the water run until it comes out of your tap before you drink it.

If you are abroad, however, tap water should be boiled as a precaution, as the water quality can vary greatly. In addition, water from lead pipes should not be drunk. There is a risk here that the water is contaminated with heavy metals from the pipe, which can endanger the baby’s health. If you are not sure which water pipes your house or apartment has, you should ask the landlord and find out more.

In addition to still (mineral) water, you can also offer your child unsweetened herbal or fruit tea. Special medicinal herbal teas such as fennel, peppermint and lemon balm teas are only recommended for babies from time to time due to the essential oils they contain and should not be offered every day.

On the other hand, sugary instant teas, undiluted juices, soda & Co. should be avoided completely, preferably well beyond the first year of life, in order not to impair dental health and not to damage the teeth in the long term. But not only soda and other soft drinks, but also undiluted fruit and vegetable juices contain both sugar and carbohydrates, which can promote tooth decay. For this reason, the juice spritzer should be mixed in a ratio of at least three parts water and one part juice and only offered to the children occasionally.

Recognize lack of fluids

Adequate fluids are essential for healthy development and a lack of fluids can be dangerous, especially for babies. However, as long as your baby is alive and well, there is nothing to worry about. Just like the feeling of hunger and satiety, the feeling of thirst is also innate, which means that babies always drink as much as is needed at the moment. In addition, the daily fluid intake of babies can vary significantly from time to time. There are days when your child does not feel well, for example because they are sick or in the middle of a growth spurt , or they simply have less appetite. Don’t go crazy right away, but keep an eye on your child and offer the breast or the bottle regularly.

To prevent dangerous dehydration, watch out for the following signs that may indicate a lack of fluids:

  • The diaper is less wet than usual
  • The baby seems listless
  • The urine is darker in color
  • The baby is prone to constipation
  • Skin folds only slowly recede
  • The fontanel sinks in young infants
  • Dry mouth, lips and tongue
  • It is weeping without tears

If you notice these signs in your baby, you should visit a pediatrician immediately so that the possible lack of fluids can be compensated for as soon as possible. Most often, in the event of dehydration, the doctor will give an infusion or electrolyte solution.

In some cases, discomfort in the stomach or esophagus as well as misalignments in the jaw, a shortened tongue, or a high palate can lead to drinking problems. If you suspect that drinking is impaired due to a physical condition, you should also contact the pediatrician.

Tips and tricks to increase the amount you drink

Do you have the feeling that your darling drinks too little? In this case, we have put together some helpful tips and tricks for you to increase the amount your child drinks:

Frequent and regular application : To encourage your baby to drink, you should regularly apply it to your breast or offer him the bottle. It can be put on about every two hours and also at night. It makes sense to put them on at night, especially for babies who have drunk less during the day.

Close to the body and the correct breastfeeding position : Place your baby on your bare upper body to cuddle. In this way you ensure the necessary skin contact, which in turn stimulates the release of the happiness hormone oxytocin and thus boosts milk production. The correct breastfeeding position also has a huge impact on babies’ drinking habits. In particular, a reclined breastfeeding position has proven itself when babies are not drinking enough. It is best to seek advice on breastfeeding positions from your midwife or lactation consultant.

Spoon feeding : Occasionally , babies are too tired to properly suckle on the breast or the bottle. You can feed your baby by gently squeezing the premilk out of your breast and placing it on a spoon.

Rest and relaxation : So that your baby can drink enough, the breastfeeding process needs as much rest and relaxation as possible. For example, if you are stressed, it can spread to your baby and lead to them not drinking enough. Retreat to a quiet place to breastfeed and try to relax. Quiet relaxation music, a darkened room or a cup of tea can have a positive effect on the moment of relaxation.

Use nipple shields or other nipples: In the case of flat, hollow or inverted nipples, special nipple shields that are placed over the nipple can make it easier for your baby to drink. However, midwives recommend using the nipple shield only temporarily so that you do not forget how to drink normally. If you give your baby the bottle, you can try to switch from silicone to latex teats. These are usually softer, which in turn simplifies sucking and can thus improve drinking behavior.


Cup instead of bottle

As soon as you introduce the third complementary food, it is time to offer your baby additional water with the milk meals. Let your child drink from a glass or mug right from the start, even if they cannot close their lips completely around the edge when they first try to drink. In this way you prevent the bottle from sucking continuously. In addition, the bottle often not only serves as a thirst quencher, but is also used as an activity or sleep aid and the children get used to it.

To make it easier for your child to drink from the cup and so that the chin does not have to be lifted so high, it should be filled to the brim. If your child is still overwhelmed with the cup, you can start with a special drinking cup for toddlers, a doll cup or an egg cup. Set a good example and always have a glass of water with meals and praise your child when they have a drink.

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