Sugar Water For Babies – Is It Safe?

4 min read

Written by Pradeep


Mary Poppins’ famous song “spoonful of sugar” may have some truth in it. Some recent studies in the field of medicine show that sugar water may help reduce pain in babies. During the first year with a newborn baby at home several problems may arise. Some are simple and common while others may need the assistance of the doctor to be treated. Sugar water is thought to have pain-relieving properties for babies. But is it safe to give sugar water to babies? What are the risks associated with giving sugar water to babies? Read on to learn more about sugar water for babies and when it should be used.
sugar and water

  • Why Is Sugar Water Used For Babies?
  • How Is Sugar Water Given To Babies?
  • Can Sugar Water Be Used To Treat Constipation In Babies?
  • Is Sugar Water A Remedy For Baby’s Hiccups?
  • Can Sugar Water Be Used To Treat Tummy Ache In Babies?
  • How Effective Is Sugar Water For Jaundice In Babies?

Why Is Sugar Water Used For Babies?

Some pediatricians use sugar water to reduce the pain in babies, which may occur because of circumcision, a shot or a prick to draw blood. Although this is not proven, but many pediatricians feel that babies can be distracted away from the pain by giving sugar water.

How Is Sugar Water Given To Babies?

A pediatrician is the right person to give sugar water to babies. He will administer sugar water to babies either by a syringe into baby’s mouth or by dipping a pacifier in it.

Can Sugar Water Be Used To Treat Constipation In Babies?

Constipation among babies is noticed when we switch over to formula feed/solids from breast milk. It is very rare for children who are wholly on breast milk to develop constipation because breast milk is known to include a mild laxative that takes care of regular bowel movement. In such a situation, sugar is the best home remedy that you can think of for cure. Of all the sugars, brown sugar is known to be the best and highly recommended  by health experts. It works by bringing in additional fluids into the sensitive baby bowel to soften the stool. But remember not to use brown sugar as a method of treatment when your baby is not taking enough fluids. In such cases it could lead to dehydration.
For a 200 ml/7 Oz infant formula, add 1 level scoop of brown sugar with warm milk. Shake well to dissolve completely. For the next 24 hours, use this method for every second bottle feed. Once the bowel function resumes, reduce the dose of brown sugar—add the sugar to every second or third feed and gradually to every third or fourth feed until you stop it completely. Remember to give your baby 30-60 ml of normal, boiled cooled water to drink in between the morning and evening feeds. Also, do not use brown sugar too often as it may cause tooth decay and lead to increase in weight.
sugar water for babies

Is Sugar Water A Remedy For Baby’s Hiccups?

If your baby starts getting hiccups while feeding, it is not something to panic about and rush for a remedy. It is quite common and though many would recommend water and sometimes water with sugar, this is not a good idea for newborn babies. Normally children upto 6 months should not be given water because it makes them feel full and upsets their breast milk intake. When they are over 6 months, small amounts of water can be introduced. In case of hiccups, you could take some sugar on your finger or dip your finger in sugar syrup and allow your baby to suck it for a few seconds. This is not the best method to relieve hiccups in babies, but could be followed sometimes. Normally it is recommended to rub the baby’s back in between feed and make them burp to keep hiccups away. If they are made to sit upright so as not to swallow too much air, hiccups will not bother them.

Can Sugar Water Be Used To Treat Tummy Ache In Babies?

Sugar water may be used by the doctors to give temporary relief from pain. But it is never recommended to use it at home. The amount given at a time is 1 ml and it helps to distract the baby from pain. For babies below 6 months, water is “no-no” and sugar water is totally out of question. For them, breast milk is the only food that takes care of all their needs, whether hunger or pain. The disadvantage of preparing sugar water at home for tummy ache is, if there is too much water, it can cause electrolyte disturbance by diluting the sodium in the body. However, in babies one year and above, sugar water is known to have a calming effect.

How Effective Is Sugar Water For Jaundice In Babies?

Jaundice is common among newborn and breastfed babies alike. It is because of more red blood cells produced which the immature liver breaks down but cannot dispose. There are several kinds of jaundice and it is normally associated with infrequent and insufficient feeding. In newborn babies, jaundice is common and harmless. Treating jaundice in babies with sugar water is not considered a good idea. It has shown to be ineffective to reduce bilirubin levels that cause jaundice. Instead, it could aggravate the condition by making the babies feel full due to sugar because of which they may not want to nurse and reduce milk intake.
It is therefore evident that it is not advisable to use sugar water for babies because rather than giving relief from any problem, it could have long-term side effects. Even if it has to be used, it must be done under the supervision of the doctor.
So mommies, have you ever used sugar water to soothe your infant’s pain? Was it effective? Do leave your experiences in the comments section below.


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