No – breastfed babies don’t need additional feeds of water in any weather. Babies get all the hydration they need from breastmilk, providing they are able to feed as often as they want to, for as long as they want to. Make sure your baby is latched well at the breast and they will get all they need. Once your baby starts eating solid foods, then you will probably want to offer a small cup of water with the meal, but this is more for fun and learning than actual hydration.
So, why don’t babies need extra water if they are breastfed? Breastmilk is around 88% water, in addition it contains very few solutes which means that a young babies kidneys do not need extra fluids to flush any solutes through their system. The amount of water available to a baby in breastmilk, even in very hot, dry climates exceeds a baby’s water requirements.
Breastmilk is also nutrition for the baby, so if the baby fills up on water then not only does he or she not get the calories and nutrition required, they are likely to miss the breastfeed they would normally have. A baby’s stomach is small and it doesn’t take much to fill it. This can quickly lead to a drop in milk production in the mother – especially in the early weeks. Water and implements used to feed a baby, are also a means of introducing bugs and germs into a baby’s digestive system, leading to illness. Bottled waters can also be dangerous and may contain too high levels of various minerals including sodium.
Babies who are fed artificial baby milk, may need small quantities of water if dehydration is a concern. Advice on the suitability of water in each country should be sought from medical professionals.
So, in hotter weather than usual, or on visits to hot countries, you may find your baby feeds more often, and may take more frequent, shorter feeds for a few days while both she and you adapt to the difference. You may find that relatives and well meaning friends encourage you to give your baby water – perhaps because that’s what they did – but you can rest assured you don’t need to. Breastmilk is everything your baby needs for at least the first year of his or her life – maybe longer. Breastmilk will also help protect your baby from many illnesses, including gastrointestinal bugs.
For more information on why you don’t need to give your breastfed baby water in hot weather visit this page.