Choosing the Right Water for Baby Formula

Water

Any parent wants what is best for their child, and this is particularly true when you have a young baby.

Whether it’s carefully selecting a top-of-the-line crib or the most comfortable eco-friendly brand of diapers, we all put plenty of time and effort into making the right choices for our little ones. Some parents may opt to feed their babies with formula, which often takes a concentrated or powdered form and must be mixed with water to achieve the right consistency.

With the wide variety of waters and filtration options out there, how to choose what is best for your baby’s delicate system?

First and foremost, it is important to check with your baby’s healthcare professional before making any dietary decisions. They will be best equipped to provide the right tailored information for your baby’s specific dietary needs. 

What kind of water should be used to create formula?

Because infants do not have fully developed immune & metabolic systems, their needs and impurity thresholds can be very different than those of adults. Safe thresholds for adults can be as much as 25 times higher than for babies when it comes to certain contaminants (e.g. nitrate), meaning that normal guidelines for water safety do not apply for very small children. 

The German Ministry of Nutrition and Agriculture has set clear guidelines for the maximum acceptable levels of mineral content in water for infants. It is a very important distinction to note that the guidelines for infants are always listed in maximum acceptable content vs. being listed in minimum mineral content as with adults, effectively swapping the frame of reference. What our adult bodies need in abundance is very much an overload for babies. 

Water for infants should be low in sodium, nitrate, nitrite, fluoride, sulfates, and manganese, among other chemical compounds. Babies should be provided with water that is balanced and overall relatively low in mineral content. In nature, these conditions are only possible in from low-mineralized water sources. 

Some important numbers to keep in mind when selecting the right low-mineralized water for your infant: 

Tap Water Concerns

The first and most obvious concern with tap water is the potential for contaminants. Tap water is not drinkable everywhere, and even in areas where it may be suitable for adults, babies’ delicate systems may not be able to handle trace amounts of bacteria which would not affect us as adults. 

A primary concern to take into account is that municipal water supplies are only obliged to meet safety standards which are applicable to the adult body, and as previously touched upon, these can be radically different than safe standards for a growing infant body.  

Tap water safety can also be highly dependent on your area, therefore not worth the risk unless you have done a test of your tap water and ensured that the mineral content does not exceed the maximum levels recommended for infants.  

Additionally, in many parts of the world (and particularly so in North America), drinking water is imbued with trace amounts of fluoride to encourage dental health. While this may be useful for adults and even for children of school age, according to the American Dental Association, too much fluoride during the baby years can result in an enduring condition called enamel fluorosis, which can result in a permanent staining of your baby’s teeth. 

It is also generally agreed that even if you live in a region with safe drinking water, tap water must still be boiled before being added to formula. While this does increase the safety of the water, it is a tricky process. Boiling water with any level of impurities is a time-sensitive process, namely because leaving on a rolling boil for any more than 1-2 minutes can have the negative effect of simply concentrating the impurities.

Water to help seeds grow into saplings

Given the delicate systems of newborns, the quality of every substance we provide them- even basic as water- needs to be taken into account. As carefully as you select a formula to feed to your infant, you also need to carefully select the water that goes into it. It is an important part of the nourishment needed to help your little one thrive!

By Emily — Oct 18, 2019
The information contained in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or nutritional advice.

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