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Babies under 6 months should not be given formula-free water, say pediatricians

Doctors say no water for babies under six months old.

As we head into summer, many families will be spending more time outside -- at the park, beach, or cooking out in the backyard. And, one of the first things we do when it's hot is reach for a glass of cold water. But, think twice before you give it to your baby. Neonatal nurses say it can be very dangerous.

That's advice first time mother, Kia Bradford Thomas, takes to heart. Her son, Samuel, was born prematurely -- at just 30 weeks. I met them today at Railroad Park. When I was pregnant with my own daughter, who was born four weeks early, I would write letters to her. Those letters were my thoughts, feelings, advice -- not to baby Madison, but to the young girl and woman she would someday become. I asked Kia what message she would want to give her baby, Samuel. Overcome with emotion, she began speaking through her tears.

"I never knew I could love another person. I love my husband, but there's something different about a mother's love."

Samuel is now six months old, still on oxygen, but otherwise healthy. While being a new mom can be challenging, Kia cares for her newborn by the book. She says one answer has been pretty simple: No water, just yet.

"My husband wants to give him water...but, I do not."

According to UAB neonatal nurses and a host of pediatric research, the first time mother is right. Babies under six months should not have water. They only need breast milk or formula -- which are enough to keep babies hydrated. Plus, premature babies or those underweight, rely on the calories they get from milk to gain the weight they need.

"They're actually burning calories by using energy to drink water," says Stephanie Gentry, a neonatal RN who has been a nurse for 13 years. "So you want them to have more calories as opposed to drinking something with no calories in it."

And, as the signature southern heat leads you to reach for a cold glass of water, there's no need to give it to baby.

"Our recommendation is just give them an extra feeding. There's still no need for just plain water."

So, at least according to the research, moms like Kia, are doing something right.

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