Can you add water to breast milk?

This article will answer the question “Can you add water to breast milk?”, and what are the things that need to be considered when mixing formula milk?

Can you add water to breast milk?

Water supplements can be harmful to newborns (especially under 4-5 weeks)

2-month years old babies or those below should not be given supplemental water. It leads to higher bilirubin levels (jaundice), excess weight loss, and longer hospital stays for newborns. Excess water supplication can lead to oral water intoxication in newborns. 

Feeding water to newborns fulfills their satiety but fails to nourish them which leads to weight loss. Babies that are fed supplemental water do not get used to nursing which leads to a poor stimulation of the mammary glands. It either delays the milk supply or never lets it achieve an optimum level.

For babies past the newborn stage 

Water lacks the nutrients and fats present in breast milk that is needed for the optimal growth and development of your baby. 

The water requirement of a newborn is fulfilled by breast milk which has enough water already. However,  4-6-month-old babies can be fed up to 2 ounces of water per 24 hours. 

To prevent constipation in babies that have started on solid food, feed them expressed milk or water. Older babies should be fed both breast milk and water (4-6 oz per day).

1-Why you should never mix formula with expressed breast milk?

Formula milk is not a replacement for breast milk. Therefore, the two should never be mixed. When mixed, the nutrients in the formula milk may interfere with the nutrients of the breast milk and inhibit their absorption. 

To counter this problem and prevent your baby from malnutrition, it is recommended to first feed breast milk to your baby. This will allow your baby to absorb all the goodness from the mother’s milk. Then you can feed formula to your infant.

2-Be careful when you use other mother’s breast milk

Donating and selling breast milk is banned in some countries while legal in others. This is a growing industry and does not exempt from contamination. Adulteration of breast milk with cow milk is common. Therefore, It becomes increasingly risky to feed donated breast milk to your infant unless from a trusted source.

3-Why you should always prepare the formula as directed?

The guidelines for preparing formulas are specific for each brand. They must be followed word by word to ensure the safety of the prepared formula milk. 

Some common considerations include boiling the water before mixing it with the formula to ensure safety. 

Boiling the water kills bacteria. Let the formula milk come to a warm temperature, that is safe for the baby, before feeding. Formula milk should be used within 30 minutes of mixing.

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Can I give milk to my dog?

Can milk curdle in your stomach?

Can milk help you gain weight?

How to use and store breast milk?

It is recommended to store only 2-6 ounces of milk at a time. This can vary depending on how much milk your baby normally consumes in one sitting. 

Do not forget to label your breast milk before storing it. This helps to practice stock rotation or FIFO (First In First Out).

Breast milk has a shelf-life of up to 4 days in the fridge and 12 months in the freezer. For peak quality, use frozen breast milk within 6 months of storage. 

Past the 6 months timeline, milk becomes increasingly sour with a poor nutrition profile. Fresh milk should never be mixed in the already frozen milk.

Frozen breast milk saves time and has a better nutrition profile than formula milk. But refrigerated milk is better in all aspects as it retains the maximum amount of nutrients and tastes better.

Storage guidelines for freshly expressed breast milk (for healthy term babies)

The following guidelines briefly explain how you can safely store depressed breast milk.

Storage place Room temperature16 °C to 25 °C(60 °F to 77 °F)Refrigerator4 °C (39 °F)or colderFreezer-18 °C (0 °F )or colderPreviously frozenbreast milk thawedin the refrigerator
Safe storage time Up to 4 hours is idealUp to 6 hours for milk expressed under very clean conditions*Up to 3 days is idealUp to 5 days for milk expressed under very clean conditions*Up to 6 months is idealUp to 9 months for milk expressed under very clean conditions*Up to 2 hours at room temperatureUp to 24 hours in the refrigeratorDo not refreeze


This article answered the question “Can you add water to breast milk?”, and what are the things that need to be considered when mixing formula milk?


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