Can I give my 3 months water?

Giving water to infants under 6 months old is generally not recommended. However, there are some exceptions and things to consider when deciding if you can give water to your 3 month old baby. Read on for a full discussion of the recommendations around water for young infants.

The General Recommendation

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), World Health Organization (WHO), and other health organizations typically recommend that babies under 6 months old only be given breastmilk or formula – no water, juice or other fluids.

There are a few key reasons for this recommendation:

  • Breastmilk or formula provides all the hydration and nutrition that babies need in the first 6 months of life.
  • Giving water can fill babies up without providing any calories, reducing how much breastmilk or formula they consume.
  • Water doesn’t contain the antibodies and immune-boosting components of breastmilk that help protect babies from illness and infection.
  • Babies’ kidneys are still developing, so giving excess water strains their immature kidneys.

So in general, if your baby seems content and is having plenty of wet diapers, they are getting enough to drink from breastmilk or formula alone. Additional water is not necessary and could displace essential nutrition.

Exceptions and Considerations

However, there are some exceptions where you may want to consider offering small amounts of water to a 3 month old:

Constipation – If your baby is constipated or having difficulty pooping, a small amount of water offered between normal feedings may help ease their stools. Consult your pediatrician first.

Exclusively formula fed – Formula mixed with water meets all hydration needs. But on hot days when babies sweat more, a couple sips of cool water may help them rehydrate.

Introducing solids – When first starting solid foods around 6 months, water can help rinse food off the spoon and mouth. So as you near that point with a 3-5 month old, you can begin offering sips of water with meals.

Heat exposure – If your baby is overheated such as on a very hot day, offering a sip or two of water can help regulate their temperature.

Illness – If your baby has a fever, cold, or flu, the pediatrician may recommend offering small sips of water to ensure they stay hydrated while sick.

So in specific circumstances where dehydration is a concern, water may be helpful for a 3 month old after consulting your doctor. But it should always be given in small amounts from an open cup or spoon, not in a bottle which can confuse babies. And breastmilk or formula should continue to be the main source of nutrition.

How much water can I give a 3 month old?

If you do need to give your 3 month old water in certain situations, how much water is safe and appropriate? Here are some general guidelines:

  • 0-2 ounces (60ml) per day is usually recommended.
  • Aim for small sips, not full bottles.
  • Give water in addition to, not instead of, regular feeding times.
  • Spread out water intake throughout the day.
  • Watch for signs of fullness like pushing away, spitting up, decreased appetite.
  • Only give as much as needed to address dehydration concerns.

Giving large quantities of water or replacing breastmilk/formula feedings with water can deprive babies of needed calories and nutrition. The general rule is to start with just a few sips and watch for any signals of fullness.

Consult your pediatrician if you feel your baby needs more than 2 ounces per day as that may be a sign of an underlying condition requiring attention. Otherwise, small supervised sips are generally considered safe if needed.

How should I give water to a 3 month old?

Water should always be given carefully and slowly to infants to reduce risk of choking. Follow these tips:

  • Give water with an open cup, spoon, or sippy cup – never in a baby bottle.
  • Hold your baby semi-upright when giving water.
  • Put just a small amount on the spoon and let them sip or lap it up.
  • Tilt the cup gently so they can take small sips at their own pace.
  • Never pour water into their mouth.
  • Stop giving water if they start coughing or gagging.

Going slowly and letting your baby control the pace allows them to coordinate swallowing and breathing. Forcing water into their mouth can increase risk of aspiration or water intoxication.

Supervise closely and offer just a little bit at a time from an open container. This teaches healthy drinking habits and prevents overconsumption. Discontinue use if you have any safety concerns.

What type of water is safe?

For infants, the safest water options are:

  • Purified or bottled water – These go through filtration to remove contaminants and are low risk choices.
  • Boiled tap water – Boiling tap water for 1 minute kills any harmful bacteria or parasites present.
  • Filtered tap water – An approved home filter removes lead and other impurities from regular tap.

Tap water directly from the faucet is not recommended unless you know your tap water is safe. Water from private wells, lakes, rivers, etc should always be avoided for babies. And do not use artificially softened water or water with fluoride added.

Stick with purified water from a trusted source. If using tap water, take steps to purify it first by boiling or filtering to remove any infectious organisms or contaminants before giving to baby. Check that any filters used are designed to remove lead and other heavy metals.

When can babies have water regularly?

While small sips can be given as needed before 6 months, water does not need to be part of a baby’s regular daily intake until starting solids around 6 months old. Here is when water can become a routine part of your baby’s diet:

  • When first introducing solid foods around 6 months, water can be used to rinse spoons, plates, and your baby’s mouth.
  • Mixing cereal or purees with breastmilk or formula also adds some hydration from water content.
  • As solid foods increase after 6 months, water can be offered in an open cup with meals and snacks.
  • Around 6-12 months, infants naturally start consuming more water as other foods are introduced.
  • By 12 months, water can be given frequently throughout the day from cups and straws.

The older your baby gets, the more water they will typically consume from both food and drink sources. But the transition to water should start slowly along with solids around 6 months. Babies do not need plain water on a regular basis prior to this age.

Signs your baby needs more fluids

While most babies won’t need extra water in the first 6 months, check for these signs of possible dehydration:

  • Less than 6 wet diapers per day after the first week of life
  • Dark yellow or orange urine
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks, or fontanel (soft spot)
  • Crying without tears
  • Unusual sleepiness, lethargy, or irritability

If you observe any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician. They may recommend offering small amounts of water between feedings if an underlying medical issue is ruled out.

But if your exclusively breast or formula fed baby has plenty of wet diapers, bright yellow urine, and seems content, they are likely getting adequate hydration already. Always offer water carefully and talk to your doctor first if something seems off.

Introducing water to formula

For babies getting mostly formula, you can begin introducing small amounts of water mixed into the formula around 3-4 months old. Here are some tips:

  • Start by replacing 1-2 ounces of formula with water.
  • Gradually increase the ratio of water as your baby gets older.
  • Don’t add more than 4 ounces of water until over 6 months old.
  • Mix well to distribute evenly and prevent your baby from consuming mostly water.
  • Watch your baby’s fullness cues so they don’t overfeed on diluted formula.

Diluting formula modestly helps babies grow accustomed to water in their diet. But always ensure they are consuming enough calories and talk to your pediatrician about the right balance.

Over-diluting formula or putting your 3 month old on plain water instead of formula puts them at risk of malnutrition and poor growth. Only supplement as recommended while maintaining full nutrition.

Risks of too much water for babies

While small sips of water are okay in certain circumstances, giving excess water to infants can be dangerous. Here are some of the risks:

  • Nutritional deficits – Replacing breastmilk/formula with water reduces essential calories, proteins, vitamins.
  • Improper electrolyte balance – Too much water interferes with sodium levels needed for normal function.
  • Hypoglycemia – Excess water intake can dilute blood sugar which needs to be maintained.
  • Water intoxication – Consuming more water than kidneys can process can cause dangerous electrolyte imbalances.
  • Aspiration – Water given improperly or in large amounts may cause choking or inhaling liquid into lungs.

That’s why pediatricians recommend being very cautious about giving water, especially in large quantities, to babies under 6 months old. While small sips have minimal risks, excessive water consumption poses a real danger.

If your baby ever seems to have consumed dangerous amounts of water, seek medical care immediately. And be sure to offer water carefully and only as needed prior to 6 months old.


Is it safe to give a 3 month old boiled water?

Yes, boiled water is safe for 3 month olds as long as it has been boiled for at least 1 full minute. This kills any bacteria or organisms in the water that could make your baby sick. Let it cool to room temperature before offering it.

How do I give water to a breastfed baby?

For breastfed babies, give small sips of water from an open cup or spoon. Hold your baby upright, wet their lips with a little water, then let them lap or sip slowly at their own pace. Always give water in addition to breastmilk, not instead of feedings.

Can I give 3 month old electrolyte water?

Electrolyte waters are generally not necessary or recommended because babies this young get all needed electrolytes from breastmilk or formula already. Plain purified water or boiled tap water are better options if giving water.

What if my 3 month old refuses water?

It’s very normal for babies this age to be uninterested in water. If your baby refuses water or seems to dislike it, don’t force the issue. As long as they are feeding well on breastmilk or formula and producing enough wet diapers, they are getting adequate hydration without requiring extra water.


While giving water to infants under 6 months is typically not recommended, there are some circumstances where small sips may be warranted with a 3 month old. This includes constipation relief, illness, very hot weather, or when first introducing solids around 6 months old.

Always check with your pediatrician before offering water. When needed, give only 1-2 ounces maximum per day in an open cup or spoon very slowly and carefully. Stop if your baby seems uninterested or excessively full. Monitor for signs of dehydration or over-hydration and never replace breastmilk or formula with water. With some cautious supervision, limited water can be given to a 3 month old in specific situations – but their main hydration should still come from breastmilk or formula.

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