You can lead a baby to water...
March 10, 2019 8:23 AM   Subscribe

9.5 month old baby needs to drink more water. Suggestions?

Baby is breastfed and has rarely needed bottles- probably only about 50 in his life, and all of those were pumped milk, with the bottled held by an adult. We're now feeding him solids + nursing a few times a day, and he seems to be getting a bit constipated.

We offer water in a bottle or non-leaking sippy cup, but the taste payoff of water isn't high enough for him to have more than a few sips. He'll drink from a spoon or a cup held by an adult, but it takes forever and ultimately not much water makes it into him. We also water down his food a bit but we also want him to have calorically-dense food, so that seems counter-productive.

Is there a foolproof brand of cup to try?
And how much water should we be trying to get into him, anyway? He's pretty big- about 22 pounds.
posted by nouvelle-personne to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try different water. Try filtering the heck out of it, and then aerating. Water has an extremely strong taste. Try using a glass container so that there is no flavour transfer going on, as will often happen with plastic.

Try feeding him sloppy wet fruit such as applesauce that will be good for constipation but not require him to drink extra water to process the fibre. Some sorts of ripe squash would also work, but it has to be the vegetably kind, not the starchy kind. Cooked zucchini might work, for example.

Try vegetable juices in lieu of water; just don't go with sweet juices.

Be patient with yourself and with him. Two months are about to go by no matter what you do, and most infant development problems change within two months, at least enough to give you a different perspective and different things to try.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:33 AM on March 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

do you feed him cooked mashed prunes? should take care of the constipation...
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:37 AM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your goals of calorie-dense + no constipation may not be compatible here! I would add in more watery fruits and veg before trying to push water too much. This timeline for water is consistent with how my kids did it.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:43 AM on March 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Pedialyte has been a go-to when our little ones had been sick and needed fluids. Baby gatorade.
posted by nickggully at 8:57 AM on March 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sips are good! The intake goal is really only like 4 oz for the whole day, maybe up to 6 if he's still having problems. I'd start by having a day where he only drinks out of the spill-proof container so you know how much he's inclined to take on his own (assuming he's not otherwise suffering, obviously, though honestly he'll probably just make up any difference by nursing more). If you still want to supplement after seeing the results of that, frozen fruit/vegetables or even just ice cubes in mesh feeders might be pretty appealing.
posted by teremala at 8:57 AM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

By the way, here's a trick as a tidier, more fun alternative for spooning it in: get a straw, insert one end a little ways into water, then put your fingertip over the other end. Move the wet end to baby's mouth and take your finger off the other to release. Start with teeny amounts so he gets the idea and doesn't feel like he's drowning.
posted by teremala at 9:04 AM on March 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

If it’s just the constipation you’re worried about, jarred prunes or pears worked really well for both my kids. As long as he’s peeing enough it may not be dehydration so much as learning to process new foods that’s slowing down his digestion. We aim for a half to full jar of pear or prune most days for my 10.5 month old. He really likes a pear and kale combo, from Gerber I think - we got it at target.
posted by john_snow at 9:24 AM on March 10, 2019

Why do you want your kiddo eating calorie -dense foods? Is there a particular reason? Because for a normal sub-1 year old, the saying I've always heard is "food before one is just for fun." Why not give the kid more fruits and vegs, and more of the classic food that helps with constipation - prunes, peaches, pears, bread and cereal with fiber, broccoli, beans, etc? I would often grab those squeeze packs of blended fruit/veggies that had prunes when my kid was around that age and their poop started getting hard. We'd also cut down on cheese, yogurt, white bread, bananas, etc at the same time (foods that bind).

If your baby isn't dehydrated and is peeing regularly and healthily, I'd look more at the types of food they're eating, especially for a breastfed sub-1 year old baby.
posted by warble at 9:42 AM on March 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

Apple juice helps with constipation. You could do a splash of apple juice in the water to make the flavor more appealing. Just a bit! We also did prunes.
posted by apricot at 9:44 AM on March 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Gerber used to make baby applesauce with blueberries and it resolved constipation promptly. With vigor.

Your baby probably isn't thirsty. Whatever food you've giving Baby, add water. Oatmeal or rice cereal - add extra water. Pureed veg. or fruits, same. Make delicious chicken broth from the rotisserie chicken and Baby can have soup.

Modern diapers hold an astonishing amount of liquid so it can be hard to know just how much a baby is peeing, but as long as the pee is no darker than apple juice, they generally aren't dehydrated. (IANA Health Care Professional)
posted by theora55 at 10:55 AM on March 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you don't mind a little mess, babies around that age tend to drink more when they can do it themselves. A shot glass is the perfect size (dollar stores have plastic ones). Bonus: baby learns to drink from an open cup and you can skip the sippy cup stage entirely.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

My daughter didn't drink water until she was probably 15 months. She just ate watery foods up until that point. Specifically, applesauce, if she got constipated. If the applesauce didn't work, cut out bananas (and other foods that can cause constipation; for her the culprit was almost always bananas), and if that still doesn't work, a few spoonfuls of prunes. Prunes have never not worked. Don't overdo the prunes though.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:21 PM on March 10, 2019

Melon also good as a water fruit. Tiny oranges
posted by PistachioRoux at 3:38 PM on March 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

A friend found his baby drank more water after they taught him to 'cheers' with his sippy cup.
posted by escapepod at 5:00 PM on March 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

These "360 cups" are what everyone recommended to us, and ours got the hang of it after 1 or 2 tries. It still took her a bit to be able to lift it on her own, but that happened quickly, too.
posted by msbrauer at 6:33 PM on March 10, 2019

Sooo we never dealt with constipation in our kids. Meals were always protein +veg + starch. The starch was always baby oatmeal. Hence, no constipation. Plus, we often gave blueberries as a snack. Blueberries are low in natural sugars, but have enough fiber to do the job as needed.

For water we just left skippy cups of water around the house, where baby could get to them on his own (babies looove to do things on their own!). Of course, this was during summer when it was hot, so it wasn't hard to convince him to have a nice cool drink. Might not be quite as appealing this time of year.

Sugar will exacerbate constipation - beware fruit juices and high sugar content fruit.
posted by vignettist at 6:57 PM on March 10, 2019

And yeah, those 360 cups are the real deal. Both kiddos got the hang of them within a day or so.
posted by vignettist at 6:58 PM on March 10, 2019

We just went through this in our home, and I don't recommend prunes to release the constipation without water! Yes it'll push things through, but it'll be dry, painful poops!!! Getting the water in is key, and we did both water bottle (available at all hours, including night) and watery foods.

360 cups will be probably too tough for a 9 month old to hold. 12 months should be fine though.
posted by Toddles at 10:00 PM on March 10, 2019

My friend's baby wouldn't drink from his sippy cup and it was driving her nuts but he was intrigued by the glass of water she gave me when I dropped by. First time I offered him some I got him drinking from it easy peasy. He didn't want no baby cup but a proper glass like his auntie.

Baby's don't need a huge amount of water so if you model drinking water and offer him sips I bet he'll drink more and the fruit and vege will help the rest. And the 'cheers!' tip is brilliant.
posted by kitten magic at 4:20 AM on March 11, 2019

360 cups will be probably too tough for a 9 month old to hold. 12 months should be fine though.

As with everything with children, it really depends on the individual. Ours was drinking from one with our help from about 7 months and holding it on her own from about 8.5. Now at 10.5, she still needs help occasionally, but more often than not she's totally fine using it on her own.
posted by msbrauer at 6:23 AM on March 11, 2019

We just went straight to prune puree when our kid of around the same age got constipated. It's a very common thing to happen right around the time you start giving more solids.

Our kid never really took to drinking water at that age (why have a bottle of water when you already know that breastmilk is what comes in bottles?). I've also heard pear or some other fruit juices suggested for constipation.

Our kid never got habituated to drinking water until he mastered a sippy cup at around 12-13 months. And, even now, he will go for milk over water if offered. We really didn't worry about pushing liquids aside from breastmilk before one year. Our kid did not dry up into powder and blow away or anything.

The pediatrician stressed that it was time to introduce sippy cups at his 6 month appointment, but, ha, lol, maybe some babies that young take to the cup but ours didn't, and neither did most other babies I know. We still haven't entirely eradicated bottles from our kid's life even at 16 months.
posted by the milkman, the paper boy at 10:50 AM on March 11, 2019

Our baby got hooked on watered-down non-sweetened fruit/herbal tea at the daycare.
posted by gakiko at 2:16 AM on March 12, 2019

Thanks all for the advice! We did most of it and baby stopped being constipated almost immediately.

Our main solutions:

- Mixed a bit more water into any food that seemed a good fit (oatmeal, purees, cereal)

- Mixed a small splash of prune juice into an ounce of water at each meal, and fed it to him from a small open plastic cup. He drank WAY more water when it was a bit pruney!

- Gave high-fibre foods as a finger-snack: frozen organic wild blueberries (wild are smaller than cultivated and therefore less of a choking risk), frozen tiny green peas (again, smaller size), canned corn niblets, and canned chickpeas, mashed roughly with a spoon and with a squeeze of lemon over top. Baby loves them all, quickly developed a fantastic pincer grasp, and pooped them out effortlessly, like little Pac-Man dots!

And gold medal for this advice, which was VERY reassuring:

"Be patient with yourself and with him. Two months are about to go by no matter what you do, and most infant development problems change within two months, at least enough to give you a different perspective and different things to try."

I'm going to try to parent with that perspective from now on- thanks, Jane the Brown!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:08 PM on May 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

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