What type of water is best for infant formula?

Deciding how to feed a baby, whether breast or formula, can be difficult for parents. One question: what kind of water should you use to make formula?

TODAY Parents asked pediatricians for answers.

The best formula water

When preparing baby formula, parents have the option of using tap, fluoridated, well or bottled water. Different factors should be considered when deciding which one to use.

Tap water

Dr. Tye Winters, Director of Pediatric Residence and Medical Director of the Overlook Medical Center Pediatric HealthStart Clinic, tells parents TODAY that “the recommendation is to boil water for at least 1 minute in a pot with a lid. , then let it cool with the lid on the pan. This should be followed especially in the first 3 months or if the infant was born prematurely, before 36 weeks gestation.

Water from a public source in the United States is generally of very high quality and can be used safely for mixing formula, but Dr. Hillary O’Boyle, a pediatrician in Richmond, Virginia, says he is always good to check: “I would advise parents to make sure your tap water comes from a safe water source, as defined by your county health department or state environmental agency. State.

Fluoridated water

Fluoridated water can be used to make formula; however, doctors say it shouldn’t be used with every feed, to prevent babies from getting too much fluoride in their bodies. Excess fluoride can lead to skeletal changes in infants over time.

Infant formula contains all the fluoride your baby needs, so using tap water for mixing, which usually contains additional fluoride, may put your infant at a slightly increased risk of something called dental fluorosis, says O’Boyle. This causes faint white lines to appear on adult teeth, which is not harmful, but can be a cosmetic problem. O’Boyle tells TODAY Parents that parents who live in areas with fluoridated tap water “may want to periodically use ready-to-use (pre-mixed) formula and/or mix formula with bottled water, which does not contain fluoride. ”

If you use fluoridated water, the American Dental Association suggests checking with your local water company to make sure the fluoride level is below 0.7 parts fluoride per million parts water.

Well water

Winters says well water should not be used for formula milk because it can contain harmful bacteria that can lead to life-threatening infections, especially in young infants or babies with underlying health conditions. Distilled or purified water should be used instead of well water.

If well water is the only water source, be careful. Some wells have a high concentration of nitrateswhich can seep from fertilizer into the soil, putting babies at risk for something called methemoglobinemia. O’Boyle said: “Boiling the water doesn’t solve this problem. If you are interested in using well water for formula mixing, the water should be tested periodically for nitrates to ensure safe levels.”

If nitrate levels are safe, O’Brien said, “Additionally, all well water should be boiled before use.”

Bottled water

Virtually any type of bottled water can be safely used to mix the formula. This includes purified, distilled, deionized or demineralized water. Using bottled water is the best way to ensure water safety and also has the advantage of not containing additional fluoride.

When choosing bottled water, it is important to know if the water has been fortified with additives such as fluoride or electrolytes, as this can lead to excessive amounts of electrolytes or fluoride in the body of the infant.

Regular bottled drinking water should always be boiled before using in formula, like tap water. Distilled or purified water can be used without having to boil the water.

Talk to your pediatrician

As with anything else, getting advice from your child’s pediatrician is always the best bet. One thing to remember is that babies under 6 months do not need water on their own; it can actually lead to electrolyte imbalances and potentially brain damage. Infants get plenty of water from formula or breast milk.

Parents can make formula or bring their own water when they leave home. Prepared formula can be stored out of the refrigerator for up to approximately 2 hours after preparation.

Parents have several safe options when choosing water for formula mixing. The two safest options are boiled tap water that has been cooled to room temperature or any type of bottled water. If tap water is the primary water source for formula, occasionally use bottled water to reduce fluoride exposure.

Parents should be very careful about the source of water for infants under 3 months old, premature babies, or babies with weakened immune systems, as they are at higher risk of serious bacterial infection from water unsanitary.

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