When you make the decision to formula-feed, you’ll need to consider what kind of water is best for use in your baby’s bottles. Learn which types have been deemed safe for consumption by infants and which you should avoid.
When it comes to feeding your baby, you may think the only decision you need to make is what formula you’ll use. You’ll soon come to find out that the kind of water you mix with the formula is also important.
When I brought my son home from the hospital, I made bottles using regular, unfiltered water from the tap. After talking to some mom friends, I discovered this wasn’t the best option.
Public water often contains lead and other mineral contamination. Our local treatment center also adds fluoride to the water, which can contribute to dental fluorosis or white or brown spots on the teeth.
It’s ideal to use bottled water for baby formula or bring cold tap water to a rolling boil for at least one minute, then cool at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes before use, according to HealthyChildren.org.
What the Experts Say
“Using filtered tap water and a container of powdered formula is a greener choice you can make for the good of both your baby and our world. Please note that it may be best to use water without added fluoride for mixing baby formula or baby food.”
Raising Baby Green, Alan Greene
“If you live in an older building, your water supply could contain too much lead. To find out, have it tested. Otherwise, use bottled distilled water or ready-to-feed formula.”
Baby Bites, Bridget Swinney, MS, RD
“Water used for mixing formula must be sanitary and come from a source approved by the local health department.”
Rethinking Nutrition, Susan Nitzke, Dave Riley, Ann Ramminger, Georgine Jacobs
“If you have well water and it hasn’t been tested, have it tested before baby’s birth for nitrates. If your baby drinks formula (it’s safe to breastfeed, even if mom drinks the water) and the formula is made with water that contains nitrates, baby could develop a life-threatening blood disorder called methemoglobinemia.”
Your Pregnancy for the Father-to-Be, Glade B. Curtis, Judith Schuler
“The AAP cautions mothers to check their water supply to make sure that it is safe for their babies to drink. Water could potentially contain nitrates, sodium, bacteria, and parasites.”
Counseling the Nursing Mother, Judith Lauwers, Anna Swisher
Using Bottled Water
Bottled water is one of the best options for baby formula, but not any bottled water will do. Regular bottled water often contains extra minerals for taste that your baby does not need.
Today you can find bottled water made exclusively for use in baby formula. This water is typically approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and follows much stricter guidelines.
If you do decide to use bottled water, opt for basic spring water with no additives. Bottled water is not sterile, so you may need to boil it.
Using Tap Water
If you’re unable to obtain bottled water, tap water is the next best option. In many areas of the country, tap water is completely safe. However, some water supplies may contain higher concentrations of chemicals or additives. If you’re unsure, check with your local water supplier to find out exactly what’s in your tap water.
If you’re still concerned that your tap water is not safe, you can boil it, according to WebMD.
Using Well Water
While well water is not an optimal choice, it can be used when no other water sources are available. However, before using well water make sure that it’s safe.
Have a professional test the water to determine what minerals it contains, as well as any dangerous contaminants like nitrates. Remember that boiling will not eliminate nitrates from your water.
If well water contains nitrates above a level of 10 mg/L, it should not be used for baby formula, according to HealthyChildren.org.
The water used to prepare your infant’s formula must be safe and free of dangerous minerals, chemicals, or contaminants that could possibly cause adverse health effects. No matter what kind of water you use, it’s best to sterilize it first. After preparing your baby’s bottle, throw away any excess formula within one hour of serving.