By Carolyn Hecken
As the hot summer weather and warm sunshine have finally arrived, you may be asking yourself – or your friends – if it is necessary for your baby to take in additional fluids in the form of water. You’re not alone in wondering this!
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby won’t require any additional fluids such as water since your breast milk is actually 88% composed of water and thus meets all of your baby’s fluid and nutritional needs each day.
In fact, offering water to a baby under two months (especially under 5 weeks of age) can be dangerous as supplementing breast milk with water or tea can fill your baby’s stomach without providing much needed calories for growth and development. This, in turn, can lead to your infant losing weight or being slow to gain weight. Too much water can even lead to your baby developing a condition called oral water intoxication.
Once you’ve begun introducing solids (the WHO recommends six full months of exclusively breastfeeding), you can give your little one a bit of expressed milk or water in a cup along with his/her meals throughout the day since this can help ease or prevent constipation for some babies as they become accustomed to taking in solids. For babies between four and six months, offering no more than two ounces, or 60ml, limited to a 24-hour period is perfectly fine!
So, what about my baby who receives formula or a combination of breast milk and formula? Well, the recommendations are pretty much strikingly the same unless you are advised differently by your baby’s pediatricians. In special circumstances, such as chronic constipation or dehydration due to an illness, your child’s pediatrician may issue specific recommendations on the use of additional fluids.
Always confer with your pediatrician or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, IBCLC (we have so many wonderful ones here in the Munich area who also speak English), if you have concerns or questions about infant feeding or supplementation.
Enjoy the sun’s warm, energizing rays and have a fun-filled summer!
Certified Volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellor through the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Freier Stillgruppen and D.A.M.E. Certified Doula