When exclusively breastfeeding, can I give my baby water or ORS?
If I am exclusively breastfeeding, is it still safe to give my baby water or ORS. Will this increase the risk of passing HIV?
Exclusive breastfeeding does mean exclusive (and that includes water).
Breast milk is 88% water and extra water is not needed by a baby.
Breast milk has sufficient nutrients etc for a baby up to 6 months.
One of the reasons adults and older children need water is to regulate solutes (like sodium and potassium) in the body. Because breast milk has low levels of these solutes, babies don’t needs as much water as older kids or adults (and their kidneys not fully developed).
So a healthy baby does not need anything extra.
I know that family members and even some healthcare workers encourage women to give a little bit of juice/water/whatever because they can’t believe that breast milk is enough – but they are wrong – and hygiene is not always so good with these other liquids. Breast milk has all your baby needs.
ORS (oral rehydration solutions) may occasionally be medically indicated, but when these are needed, good hygiene using clean water is critical.