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Safe Water for Mixing Infant Formula

Topic Overview

Check with your local water supplier to find out if your tap water is safe to use for your baby's formula. If your water is not safe or if you are not sure, you may use bottled water.

You must add cool, safe water to powders and concentrates. Be sure to follow the directions on the label and use the measuring device that comes with the product. For more information on preparing and handling formula, check your provincial website or see the Healthy Canadians Infant Formula webpage at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/kids-enfants/infant-care-soins-bebe/formula-formule-eng.php.

Boiling instructions

Canadian experts recommend boiling water—even bottled water—for infants. Heat the water until it reaches a rolling boil, and continue boiling for 2 minutes.footnote 1 Let the boiled water cool before mixing it into a powdered or concentrated formula.

It may help to have a routine every morning so that you boil enough water for the day's feedings.

Concerns about toxins

If you know that you have lead in your water, there are several things you can do to reduce the amount of lead your baby is exposed to:footnote 2

  • Don't make baby formula with water from the hot water tap. Hot water pulls more lead out of pipes than cold water does.
  • Let cold water run for 5 minutes in the morning or anytime the plumbing system has not been used for a number of hours before using it for drinking or cooking.
  • Buy and use a water filter certified to remove lead.

You can also have any pipes, fittings, or faucets in your home replaced with newer materials.

If you know that you have fertilizer chemicals (such as nitrates) in your water, don't boil your water. As the water boils away, you'll have a smaller amount of water with the same amount of nitrates in it. So the water has a stronger "dose," or concentration, of toxin.footnote 3 You can use bottled water instead.

Many public water supplies have a safe level of natural or added fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay before and after baby teeth come in. And some bottled waters contain a limited amount of fluoride.

Too much fluoride can stain children's teeth and may be toxic. If you have concerns about the amount of fluoride in your tap water, call your local water supplier to ask about the water fluoride level in your area. You can also have your water supply company test a sample of water if you are unsure of its purity. You can't remove the fluoride by boiling the water.

You can call local and provincial agencies to get more information on the safety of your drinking water.

  • Health Canada's drinking water website, www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/water-eau/drink-potab/index-eng.php, has information about water quality and can guide you to other resources if needed.
  • Your local water supplier can give you a list of the chemicals they test for in your water and can tell you how your water is treated. Your water bill will likely have a phone number listed.
  • Your provincial department of health and environment is also a valuable resource.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Health Canada, et al. (2012). Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from birth to six months. A joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php.
  2. Health Canada (2007). Minimizing exposure to lead from drinking water distribution systems. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/lead-plomb-eng.php.
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2009). Water on tap: What you need to know. Available online: http://water.epa.gov/drink/guide.

Credits

Current as ofMarch 28, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine