Can a baby survive without breast milk

Mortal danger for your baby Therefore, you should never dilute breast milk with water

Breast milk is known to be the best food for a baby. If you have too little breast milk or cannot breastfeed at all, you should use substitute milk. But it is expensive and so you could get the idea of ​​adding water to breast milk. That's what happened to a couple from the US state of Georgia. The result: your newborn is dead and the parents are on trial for murder. A dramatic story that draws attention to a largely unknown problem: the risk of water poisoning in babies.

Why water is dangerous for a baby

If you dilute breast milk with water or give the baby water separately, what is known as overhydration can occur in infants up to six months old. The problem: Babies' kidneys are not yet fully developed and cannot process large amounts of water sufficiently. The result is a strong dilution of sodium in the blood. This imbalance of salt and water leads to severe symptoms: at first the baby is lethargic and looks bloated, and later it can have seizures or loss of consciousness.

If the baby is admitted to the hospital on time, the doctors can administer electrolytes there. Most babies then survive without any consequential damage. However, if the parents do not react quickly enough, water poisoning can be fatal for the baby.

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No additional water required

Therefore, you should never stretch breast milk with water or give it extra water. At least not if your baby is six months or less. This is also not necessary, not even on extremely hot days. It is true that babies also need more fluid when they are very hot. You can cover this with more frequent breastfeeding or more substitute milk. Babies often drink more milk on their own when they need it. This also applies to stomach and intestinal diseases, for which you should also not try to think about the fluid deficit with water. The administration of water may only be necessary in exceptional cases, such as constipation. The pediatrician has to decide on this in each individual case.

As soon as babies are given solid foods between the sixth and twelfth months, the risk is no longer so great because they then also ingest salt with the food. From the twelfth month onwards, the kidneys are fully developed and able to regulate the salt and water content.