Why Babies Can’t Drink Water

There is a time in every persons life when drinking water is deadly. Even as much as a few
ounces is enough to kill. The average healthy adult is
made up of 55 to 60% water. The average baby, on the other
hand, is roughly 75% water. And that difference is why
babies shouldn’t drink water before they are at least six months old. Not from the tap or a well or a spring. Plain water is just plain off limits. You see, everyones kidneys have a limit to how much water they can handle. Break that limit, and the excess water will back up into your bloodstream, where it dilutes the salt,
or sodium, in your blood. Once your blood dips below 0.4
ounces of sodium per gallon, you are at risk of a condition
called Hyponatremia. It happens when your cells
try to return sodium levels to normal by absorbing the extra water and swell up like a water
balloon in the process, causing complications like confusion, vomiting and muscle spasms. Hyponatremia is common in marathon runners who drink too much too fast during a race without also providing enough sodium to balance out their blood. And if you keep drinking,
that excess water will eventually reach
the cells in your brain. By this point, you have a dangerous case of water intoxication, which affects roughly 200,000 Americans each year. It occurs when your brain cells swell, which builds up pressure inside your skull that can lead to seizures, brain damage, and, in sever cases, death. But don’t worry, dying from
water intoxication is extremely hard for a fully-grown human. An adult would have to drink 2.5 to 5 gallons every few hours to reach that point. But for newborns, its a different story. Their kidneys are about
half the size of an adults, so they can’t hold much
water to begin with. And it takes just a few
ounces to cause problems. On top of that, their kidneys
aren’t developed enough yet to properly filter water, so any water that enters their body ends
up in the circulatory system, where it dilutes their blood and increases their
water content by 7 to 8%. But it’s not just drinking straight H2O that poses a threat. In fact, most cases of water
intoxication in infants don’t even involve a glass of water. A common mistake is when
people dilute baby formula too much by accident, or when parents dunk their infants up and
down in a swimming pool, and in the process the infant
gulps in too much water. It’s important that if your baby is showing signs of water intoxication that you take them to
the hospital immediately, where a doctor will likely
provide some form of fluids like intravenous saline solution to bring the infants
sodium levels up to normal.