The temperature is rising and you are concerned that your baby will become dehydrated. The question many mothers ask is whether or not they should offer their exclusively breastfed baby water. Although for adults increasing our water intake is a good and often necessary practice, for exclusively breastfed infants, this is not usually the case. Breast milk has a high water content, thus baby's thirst should be quenched by breastfeeding. Often times the number of breastfeeds will increase during hot summer months because babies do need more fluid during this time. This is natural and absolutely normal. So, please allow your baby to breastfeed often and do not limit the amount of time or number of feeds your little one requests during hot weather periods.
For older babies or toddlers that are eating solids and not exclusively breastfed anymore, adding in a little bit of water between breastfeeds might be necessary. Offering additional short breastfeeding sessions can also do the trick as well.
The key to knowing if your baby is getting enough fluid is to watch for signs of dehydration. How does one do this you might ask. First, record how many wet diapers your baby has and the color of your baby's urine. Hydrated babies should have at least 6-8 wet diapers in a 24 hour period and the urine color should be very light yellow. If your baby is not producing a lot of wet diapers or their urine color is dark yellow or orange, an increase in fluid intake is necessary.
Other symptoms of dehydration are:
Here are a few ideas to help make breastfeeding in the heat more manageable for both you and your little one:
Beating the heat can prove to be a little challenging, especially because we all just feel a little less energetic when we are hot. Being proactive and well informed can make all the difference though in making sure your baby is plenty hydrated. Now, don't forget that your hydration is also important, so grab a glass of cool water and let you and your baby quench both your thirsts during these last few weeks of summer!
Heather Shabestari, BS, IBCLC, CEIM, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM). Her lactation training was completed through University of California, San Diego and an 8 month internship at Kaiser Permanente's outpatient lactation department.