If you are exclusively breastfeeding your little one, meaning no formula has been given, then he/she does NOT need additional water. This is for little ones younger than six (6) months old. When I had my consultation in the Philippines, they do not recommend giving any other liquid or juice (with the exception of syrups of vitamins or minerals) to little ones that are younger than six (6) months. This can also help avoid allergies to citrus and orange fruits.
Breastmilk is 88% water and it is enough for your little one’s needs for liquids. Colostrum is composed of fat, protein, lactose, water, and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Hence, there is no need to give water since breastmilk has water already.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), giving water to young babies puts them at risk of diarrhea and malnutrition. Water may not be clean and cause the baby to have infections. Water does not have the protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that breastmilk has so if you give water then you are risking your little one’s health and weight gain. If you have a newborn, giving water will lessen the intake of breastmilk and lead to decrease in breastmilk supply. Your little one needs all the calories and nutrition from breastmilk.
As long as the baby is nursed on demand, meaning the little one is breastfed when he/she asks for it, then there is no need to give water even during summer or really hot days. Even in humid and hot days and if you feel that your little one is more thirsty than usual, just latch him/her to your breast. This will more than satisfy your baby’s thirst and continue to protect your little one from sickness while giving him/her the much needed nutrition.
TIP: How to know if little one is thirsty or hungry?
Your little might not be a crier when hungry or thirsty so here are some cues or signs that you will have to look out for: smacking or licking of lips, opening and closing of mouth, sucking of lips, hands, or fingers, and looking for your breasts by grabbing on your shirt or your chest. My little one’s cues are always sucking of lips and fingers. If I see this, I immediately breastfeed my little one.
Also, please do not forget about hydrating yourself. I drink more than 12 glasses a day when I breastfeed my little one. During my little one’s younger days, I drink as much water as I can to keep myself hydrated and to help in my milk supply. Always remember to hydrate yourself always! Soup + water = happy baby