Sugar water for babies: A solution to manage low sugar and pain

Sugar water might help in relieving pain or low sugar issue in babies. Here's how much of sugar water you can give to your baby.
baby with a spoon
Know the benefits and risks of using sugar water for babies. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 4 Feb 2023, 13:30 pm IST
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Low sugar level in babies can keep their moms on their toes. A simple method that experts often suggest is sugar water. It’s simple to prepare and gets the work done. You just need to dissolve a small amount of sugar in water and feed your baby. It’s also said that during vaccination time, babies can be given sugar water due to its pain-relieving properties. Clearly, sugar water for babies seems to be the best solution for these problems. But an expert says use it with caution has sugar water has its set of risks too.

HealthShots contacted Dr R. Kishore Kumar, neonatologist and paediatrician at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, to know how sugar water works for babies and if you should include it in their diet.

Sugar water for baby
Sugar water for baby may be beneficial. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Benefits of sugar water

1. Sugar water for weight gain

You must have noticed that babies generally lose weight in the first few days after birth. That’s because usually most mothers would recover first from labour and delivery before they can produce adequate amounts of milk for the little one. Generally, it could take anywhere between a few days to a week. But it’s not the case with all the new mothers out there. Hence, babies generally are expected to regain the birth weight by two weeks of age, says Dr Kumar. That’s when some moms like to give sugar water to babies.

2. Low sugar in babies

Some babies are really tiny when they arrive in this world. Small babies due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction or premature babies (tips to take care of premature babies) or babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes, are prone to get low sugar in the first two to three days of birth. Hence, there is a tradition to give sugar water to avoid low sugar in babies, says the expert. This way the sugar levels are maintained and to some extent, hydration of the babies are taken care of.

3. Sugar water before painful procedure

It is believed that giving sucrose, which is a form of sugar, to babies before any unpleasant or a painful procedure makes them experience less or no pain. So, it became popular in many centres around the world to use sucrose by mouth before any procedure including vaccinations or insertion of cannula.

How much sugar water can you give to a baby?

Dr Kumar says that generally you can give up to 5 to 20 ml of sugar water, but it depends on the concentration of the sugar water. The more
concentrated sugar water, the lesser the quantity that needs to be given.

Risks involved in giving sugar water to babies

It might seem beneficial to give sugar water to babies at times, but there are also risks associated with it. In fact, adults are told to avoid sugar when they have cough and cold.

Sugar water for baby
Sugar water also has many risks. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here are the risks involved:

• If the water is contaminated or hygiene is not maintained, it can cause infections.
• Sugar water is very diluted and gives a false sense of protection on
the nutritional side of the baby (child nutrition facts). Not getting enough protein and fat could lead to risks of losing more weight in some babies.
• Sugar tends to cause dental caries. It is seen in babies when too much of sugar is given to them without cleaning their gums or emerging teeth, especially during nights.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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