Newborn supplementation with water or glucose water

Should I give my newborn sugar water?

Water and sugar water should not be used as supplements for newborn babies. This is an old practice and is no longer recommended. There is no evidence of benefit to newborns and has been shown to be harmful. If a supplement is medically required, it should be an appropriate milk. This practice continues in some hospitals.

A) Why newborns should not be given water or sugar water

Water and sugar water (glucose water) should not be used as supplements for newborn babies. This is an old practice and is no longer recommended.

There is no evidence of benefit to newborns from the brief use of additional water or glucose water and it may reduce the duration of breastfeeding (Becker 2014). The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine states that (Kellams 2017):

“Supplementation with glucose water is not appropriate because it does not provide sufficient nutrition, does not reduce jaundice, and may cause low sodium levels in the blood (hyponatremia)."

If a newborn baby requiressupplement, it should be appropriate milk.

One large survey reported that 4.2% of U.S. hospitals surveyed in 2013 gave water to babies and 12% gave glucose water to babies (Nelson 2016).

Glucose water is different from glucose gel, a form of medicine used to treat babies with low blood sugar.

References

Becker GE, Remmington T. Early additional food and fluids for healthy breastfed full-term infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Nov 25;(11):CD006462
 
Kellams A, Harrel C, Omage S, et al. ABM Clinical Protocol #3: Supplementary Feedings in the Healthy Term Breastfed Neonate, Revised 2017. Breastfeed Med. 2017 May;12:188-198
 
Nelson JM, Perrine CG, Scanlon KS, et al. Provision of Non-breast Milk Supplements to Healthy Breastfed Newborns in U.S. Hospitals, 2009 to 2013. Matern Child Health J. 2016 Nov;20(11):2228-2232