Recently, a mom posted this query on our Smart Parenting (SP) Village Facebook group:
“Hi, mommies! Our baby is now 1 month old. Normal lang ba na once a day lang siya mag-poop? Before kasi twice or thrice, pero ngayon once a day na lang. And, pinapainom ba ng water ang newborn? Thanks!”
The replies of fellow SP Village moms to the post were spot on and aligned with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO):
“Hi mom! Since I was breastfeeding, no water for baby until 6 months. Sometimes our baby poops every other day, and that’s okay.”
“No water before 6 months. Water should be given by time solid food is introduced (at 6 months). Ok lang once a day mag poop or no poop at all in a day especially when baby is breastfed and as long as no discomfort or incessant crying on baby's part.”
When your baby poops
There’s no a set-in-stone number when it comes to an infant's pooping frequency, according to Dr. Ella Salvador, a pediatrician at Ospital ng Muntinlupa and Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center. Some infants will poop seven to eight times a day while others will do so only once a day.
“A breastfed baby makes three to four stools every day. And, it's not usually formed, it has more of a pasty consistency. Baka isipin niyo nag-LBM siya or diarrhea, but it's very normal,” said Dr. Salvador. Formula fed babies, on the other hand, may poop less often. As your baby grows, his bowel movements can also drop in frequency.
“One day without a bowel movement is usually no cause for concern,” said pediatrician Dr. David Geller in a column on BabyCenter. “As long as your baby is feeding well and wetting her diaper five or six times a day, then she's most likely getting enough to eat.”
Instead of pooping frequency, look for signs of discomfort in your baby and take note of her stool consistency. Signs of constipation in your baby are firm, pebble-like stools, said Dr. Salvador. Your baby may need help pooping if she starts to become uncomfortable and has a persistently swollen abdomen, said Dr. Geller. Consult with a pediatrician if this is the case.
Why you should not give water to your infant
Doctors strongly advise against giving water to infants below 6 months for a few vital reasons. The most severe of these is he can suffer life-threatening water intoxication (he takes in so much water that it flushes out electrolytes from his body). Because the kidneys of small infants have yet to mature, they are especially at risk, said Dr. Jennifer Anders, a pediatric emergency physician, told Reuters Health.
“A baby's electrolytes are at fixed levels and do not adjust well to change,” explained pediatrician Dr. Ashanti Woods to SheKnows. “These low levels of electrolytes can result in confusion, lethargy, seizures or death.” Dr. Woods gave this comment after the news of the death of a 10-week-old who was given watered-down formula milk.
Giving water to an infant can also lead to malnutrition, according to WHO, because it reduces the nutrients a baby receives from milk, leading to slow growth and development, said the AAP.
“Breast milk is more than 80% water, especially the first milk that comes with each feed. Therefore, whenever the mother feels her baby is thirsty she can breastfeed him or her. This will satisfy the bay’s thirst, and continue to protect the baby from infections, and help the baby to continue to grow well,” said WHO.
The AAP also advised if parents are to use formula milk to prepare it as directed by the manufacturer on the label. Never add extra water to stretch the baby milk formula.
There are cases where older infants may be prescribed water by a pediatrician, said Dr. Anders, such as to help with constipation. The baby’s doctor will say how much water, and it is usually a very small amount. For any concerns about the health of your baby, if you feel your baby is constipated or not pooping enough, for example, always consult with a medical professional.