Guidelines for offering water to babies
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Mother’s milk is an unparalleled source of ideal food for a newborn, consisting of all essential nutrients required by baby for healthy growth. The composition of breast milk includes at large water, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and even essentials minerals that not only make up for nourishment needs of the baby but also provide with immunity and protection because of high Immunoglobulin and WBC content, especially in the earliest expressed milk also known as colostrum.
WHO Recommends Breast Milk Over Water at Early Stages
WHO (World Health Organization) recommends all nursing mothers to exclusively breastfeed for at least a period of 6 months. The use of any complementary diet, semi-solids or fluids, even water are strictly suggested against. Additional fluids can mess with the appetite of the baby, leading to refusal from taking mother feed on time.
Appropriate time to feed your baby is ideally every 2 to 3 hours and on demand, sticking to which eliminates the need of any additional food even formula milk. Since breast milk is almost 90% water, there is no need to give the baby any more water, as long as he or she is being fed by the mother on time.
Advantages of Exclusive Breastfeeding
Exclusive breast feeding isn’t only a healthy habit for the baby but comes with many perks for the mother as well. Apart from nutrition, mommy’s milk also protects babies from infectious and other lifelong diseases. Reduces the risks of mortality in infants and promotes quick recoveries. Women who adopt frequent breastfeeding have been found to have decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancers.
When Can You Give Your Baby Water?
As suggested above, it is not wise to give baby water from any source other than the breast milk before 6 months of age. However once your baby starts weaning, it is okay to give him few drops of water after the meal or sometime through the day. Weaning is the process of slowly introducing adult diet to babies. The ideal age to introduce weaning is also after your baby is 6 months old, then the baby should be started on diet sources other than mother’s milk but only along with breastfeeding.
Remember, the ideal age to breast feed till is 2 years as suggested by WHO. To start weaning, you can give pureed fruits and vegetables once a day to the baby and can gradually increase that frequency along with trying out other food combinations.
Tips On How to Give Water
After 6 months of age, babies can be given few sips of water a couple times a day with the help of either a spoon or a dropper. Sippy cups can also be introduced once the baby starts on solid food. Giving babies a few sips of water after their meal is also known to help with preventing constipation. Do not exceed 2 ounces of water per 24 hours, as remember your baby is also getting water from your breast milk.