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Baby Wellness: Watered-Down Formula Is a No No

The tough financial times have left many pinching pennies to get by. One item that you should never skimp on, however, is your baby's formula. A young mom in Florida recently learned this the hard way. She had been watering down her five-month-old's formula in order to make it last longer and save a few bucks, but her infant ended up being rushed to the hospital, put on a ventilator, and diagnosed with water intoxication.

Luckily the little boy is recovering, but it's important to know that in general a baby's developing body is not ready to take on water. In fact, babies can’t usually handle extra water in their diet until they are at least 10-months-old. Adding too much water to concentrated formula (or adding water to ready-to-use formulas) can cause low blood sodium levels, irritability, coma, and even permanent brain damage.

Avoid potential water intoxication in your infant by carefully following the instructions on the formula's label. If you have any questions, contact your pediatrician.


Join The Conversation
wasabigizmobunny wasabigizmobunny 8 years
Breastmilk is FREE
mushaboom mushaboom 8 years
Good god, FEEDING MY BABY would be the last place I'd make cuts to save money. I would go without food myself, skip an electricity bill, but FOOD TO KEEP MY BABY ALIVE would be #1 before rent and the rest. Lots of good points have been made about the education not being there, our fucked up society, etc. But what it comes down to is this: she'll feed herself because she can feel her stomach rumbling, but she can't feel the pain her poor baby is in so it doesn't matter. I feel sick.
MissSushi MissSushi 8 years
first off, i cant belive she ever did it, period. however it wasnt about saving a buck, they simply had no money. none. she got formula from wic, but babies eat way more then wic offers. its a shame, but it has to do with poverty, not people spending money on big screen tvs.
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
Lil, thats so sad! I think reading stories like this hopefully make people realize what a luxury it truly is to be able to survive and thrive (and how unneccesary getting that $2,000 purse of extra big screen TV really is).Also, I think that the govn't should be trying to educate new mothers more so that hopefully this doesn't happen again. Sometimes people don't realize that you can eat healthy and not spend a fortune (sardines as just as good as source of important fats, protein and omega 3's as salmon at a fraction of the cost (and little to no mercury in it)so its important preganant and nursing mothers eat that and whole milk (which tends to cost the same as lowfat). Nutrition and education are the keys (because if a mother is well nourished then she can breastfeed a healthy baby and not have to pay for inferior and expensive formulas). Breast is best (if mother is well).
Moms Moms 8 years
The story is so sad. I saw a news report a while back about a father who was struggling to make it and raising his kids as well as two granddaughters. The girls were around one and two and he'd save the little creams from restaurants and pour them into bottles so they would have milk.
kmckay kmckay 8 years
just another example on how our healthcare/country/society/etc. fails to educate people about raising a child. we have classes for driving, hunting, boating, babysitting licenses but we're able to send mothers out of hospitals without even figuring out if they have the slightest clue how to care for a newborn! sorry if i sound rude it's just that i can't stand how some adults can do everything imaginable to educate themselves about childcare and still cannot conceive yet there are other women who don't even take the time to educate themselves when they are given such a gift. this sorry made me sick.
schnappycat schnappycat 8 years
I saw this story on the news last night and it is quite sad. She was getting help from WIC as well, though, so I'm surprised they didn't educate her better about this. I've known about water intoxication all along (in babies and in adult athletes), but I'm sure many women don't. It's not something that routinely comes up at pedi appointments or at the hospital.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
I was thinking the same as foxie. Why would you deliberately deprive your child of the nutrients? Watering it is obviously going to fill them without giving them the full nutrients required. The woman's lucky it didn't cause failure to thrive as well. I'm going to assume she was unable to breastfeed if she was so concerned with saving money that she was cutting her child's nutrients. I also agree with mhg that I wish doctors offered better breastfeeding advice and support rather than formula samples. I have no problem at all with samples on request, but most doctors hand them out no matter what, "just in case" and don't offer advice on how to increase milk supply, how often baby will nurse, etc.
mhg mhg 8 years
reason #452 as to why one should breastfeed if at all possible. i've heard of lower-income women doing this and it's so scary. even if you don't dilute it to the point of water intoxication, the lack of fat and nutrients on a rapidly growing brain is devastating. kids from lower socio-economic levels have enough stacked against them. i wish the government did more to encourage breastfeeding among lower-income women instead of handing out free formula.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
This is an unfortunate story, I am glad the baby is going to be ok. One of the reasons I nursed my son was because formula is so expensive. I wouldn't have had to water it down had I bottle fed, but babies are pricey and it's one less thing to have to buy.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
this surprises me! i wouldn't have thought it would have made any difference, the baby's stomach wouldn't be fooled for long with water, and so i would think it would just end up having more bottles until it got the calories it needed. and i had no idea a baby could get so sick from too much water. sad, hopefully lots of moms will read this and more similar situations will be avoided.
foxie foxie 8 years
Even if you aren't aware that extra water is bad for baby's health, it seems fairly obvious that you shouldn't be diluting the nutrients in your baby's only/primary source of food.
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