Busting the myth: Should you also be giving water to your breastfed baby?
An anxiety regarding the prevention and cure of baby’s ill health may force parents to resort to various myths that have been suggested by parents and elders
An anxiety regarding the prevention and cure of baby’s ill health may force parents to resort to various myths that have been suggested by parents and elders.
These myths regarding baby care prevail only because certain mythical solutions might have been successful with a some infants in a few previous cases. Some of these previous suggestions become myths over a period of time. We look at a few baby care myths that are quite prevalent:
This is not true. According to the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, newborn infants should not be given food or any other drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated. Anything given to the baby other than breast milk during the first 6 months puts the baby at risk for infections, allergies and intestinal irritation.
Giving gripe water to your baby soon after birth may cause delayed establishment of breastfeeding and may also reduce the supply of milk in mothers. It has been hypothesised that the actual component in gripe water that soothes the baby’s colic is the alcohol in it.
Previously, gripe water contained alcohol in it and was as high as 9 percent. Nowadays, alcohol-free gripe water is available that contains sodium bicarbonate along with other herbs and oils.1 It is important for you to know that sodium bicarbonate does not play any role in relieving the colic because hyperacidity is not the cause of colic in infants.
Moreover, if it is used continuously it can cause milk acidosis and milk alkali syndrome. There has also been a case of P. aeruginosa septic shock syndrome which occurred post ingestion of gripe water in a 9 month old infant. In 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also confirmed the occurrence of cryptosporidium in a 6 week old infant post gripe water administration. 1
Continue reading on the next page to know if you should be giving water to your breastfed baby!
This is a myth. Giving your baby water may put him/her at risk of infection and other health conditions. It can cause diarrhea and malnutrition. There is a high possibility of the water being unclean, causing the baby to have infections. Moreover, by giving water you may cause the baby to drink less breast milk. The baby may cease to breastfeed thereby causing malnutrition. 4
Secondly, the milk supply may reduce in the course of time. Breast milk contains 80% of water, especially the first milk that comes with each feed. Thus if you feel that your little one is thirsty, you can breastfeed him/her. This will help the baby to quench his/her thirst and also protect it from infections.4
Parents are recommended to not give their babies water if the baby is below 6 months of age, even if the climate is hot. Follow the World Health OrganiSation (WHO) recommendations of giving only breast milk from the initial day till 6 month.
A breastfed baby does not need any additional food or liquid (exception for ORS-oral rehydration solution, vitamins, minerals or medicines in case of diarrhoea causing dehydration).4 Apart from this, if your baby is bottle-fed or partially breastfed, you can keep your baby hydrated by giving boiled water that has been cooled after 6 months of age.
Watch the following video for 10 simple parenting tips that are best for your baby:
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