This article discusses the safety of water for infants but omits rainwater as a possible source. Rainwater is naturally pure and free of chemicals but once it reaches a collection surface it may be contaminated so we always recommend that rainwater from rainwater tanks be appropriately filtered and purified, especially if given to infants. Whatever water is used, if the water is stored, it is important to store the water in high quality water tanks that will not leach chemicals into the stored water.
Fluoride helps keep teeth strong and prevents decay, but may cause dental fluorosis in infants.
For parents, the health of their baby is often the number one concern. One variable that can be easily overlooked is the type of water used to mix infant formula. With several options available such as filtered, distilled, and tap water, it’s important to know which one is the best for our baby’s health. When it doubt, speak with a healthcare provider to get their recommendation.
Water specifically designed for infant formula can be purchased from most grocery stores in the US.
How Safe Is Tap Water?
The safety of tap water depends on its source. City water tends to contain higher concentrations of fluoride, so it’s important to check with the local water utility to determine the level. Fluoride can cause developing teeth to permanently stain with white lines or spots while they are still forming within the gums. It may be worth using an alternative water source if the local tap water is found to contain fluoride levels higher than 0.7 mg/L.
If the source of tap water comes from a well, it’s a good idea to have the water tested before using. Well water can contain high levels of nitrates and other chemicals. In either case, run the tap water for a few minutes before using to reduce the risk of lead and mineral contamination. To reduce the risk of ground contamination, it’s also a good idea to store water in water tanks like those found on RainHarvest.com in the USA.
Is Bottled Water Safer?
Not necessarily. Although bottled water is still regulated by the FDA and must meet the same requirements as tap water, bottled water can be contaminated by the plastic bottle itself. If a decision has been made to use bottled water over tap or well water, it’s still not a bad idea to have it tested for chemicals and bacteria. An infant’s immune systems can be compromised much easier than adults, so it’s important we regulate the amount of chemicals they ingest.
Will Boiling Water Help?
It’s never a bad idea to boil water before mixing it with infant formula to help sterilize it. Boiled water can easily burn an infant, so make sure the water has had a chance to cool completely before using. Water that has been boiled for too long may contain even more concentrated levels of nitrates, salts, and other minerals, so keep it at a rolling boil for only around one minute. Once the baby has been introduced to solid foods and the bacteria it contains, it’s no longer effective to continue boiling water.
Are There Other Purification Methods?
In addition to boiling water, it’s also possible to buy water specifically designed to mix with infant formula. This water can be found near the infant formula or diapers aisle at most grocery stores. These products usually contain no fluoride, so it’s important to notify the doctor so supplements can be prescribed once the infant turns six months old. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and is an important part of our diet, especially in children.
If using a known contaminated water supply due to a natural disaster or boil water order, bleach and water purification tablets or drops can be used to help sterilize it. Follow the directions on the product and be sure it’s safe to use for infants.
Tap water is usually considered safe for infant use, but when in doubt, speak with a healthcare professional.
Source: Brian Flax (Brian Flax is a freelance writer based out of the Washington D.C. area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including technology and healthcare).
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