Most mothers worry about whether or not to give water to a breastfeeding baby in hot weather. But the fact is that you do not have to give water to a baby who is being breastfed, no matter what the temperature outside is. Studies show that babies, who breastfeed whenever they want to during hot weather do not get dehydrated. In fact giving water to an exclusively breastfed baby may be harmful.
SHOULD YOU REPLACE MILK WITH WATER?
If you replace breast milk with regular water you might disturb your baby’s feeding cycle. A baby’s tummy is extremely tiny, thus giving her water will make her feel bloated and she will clamour for less milk. In the process, your baby will lose out on certain important nutrients present in breast milk which are essential for brain growth and brain development. It is therefore, important that you do not replace breast milk with water, for by replacing the calorie rich milk with one containing empty calories, you are doing a great disservice to your baby.
Moreover, breast milk contains antibodies which protect your baby from a host of infections. Therefore, depriving your baby of milk and giving him water instead may in fact, make him unwell. This is true for any external thing that you give your baby as chances are it might be contaminated. Even when you give water you must make sure that the water is safe and fit for drinking and that all the utensils you use to give water are properly sterilized.
HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD YOUR BABY HAVE MILK?
Breast milk comprises mostly of water. During hot weather, babies tend to take frequent but shorter feeds. In this manner, they manage to get extra foremilk which is thinner in consistency than the calorie laden hind milk which is available at the end of a feed. Foremilk, because of its lighter nature is also more refreshing. Therefore, allow your baby to take as many feeds as they want when the temperature soars. Frequent feeding ensures that your baby gets sufficient water and not gets dehydrated.
When the outside temperature is unduly hot, chances are that your baby might get restless and fidgety while feeding. You can place a baby sheet or a cool towel on your laps and arms while nursing. This will cool him down. Alternatively, you can also lie down on your side and feed your baby. You can use an A/C or a cooler to cool up the room. This might provide some comfort to your baby but you must remember that an air-conditioner can have a dehydrating effect on us as well. Thus, keep feeding your baby frequently even though she is cool. If you are giving your baby formula milk, you can offer her some cool boiled water in addition to her regular feeds. If you feel that your baby is not getting sufficient milk or looks dehydrated then consult your pediatrician straight away.