There’s nothing so exciting as growing your family. Children can be a huge responsibility though, especially when it comes to getting them the right nutrition at the right stages.
When it comes to your new baby’s health and happiness, nothing is more important. These two things go hand-in-hand, as well, which is why it’s important to educate yourself on the best food for your baby.
Breastmilk offers a myriad of benefits, including antibodies and the vitamins and minerals a new baby needs to grow. Despite this, the fact is that not all women can breastfeed.
Some new mothers cannot produce any milk. This can happen for a number of reasons. Most of those reasons are not anyone’s fault.
Others can only produce some. In either case, parents must turn to formula to nourish their newborns.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, understanding the proper way of mixing formula can help your baby maximize the many benefits it offers while minimizing risks.
Since babies need either breastmilk, formula, or a combination of both for the first six months of their lives, knowing how to properly mix it is crucial.
You might be thinking that you’ll just add water. While you wouldn’t want to mix formula with juice, for example, there are different types of water.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about mixing formula and water safely.
Mixing Formula with Tap Water
Tap water can be a convenient and affordable solution for preparing your baby’s formula. Usually supplied by the city via a water company, tap water is generally safe to consume.
However, many municipalities infuse tap water with fluoride. The primary purpose of fluoride is to prevent cavities, but there can be too much of a good thing, especially for babies who are so much smaller than children or adults.
For babies, any more than 0.7 mg of fluoride per liter of water is too much. Many formulas also have fluoride in them, so it’s important to add this to the amount of your water to determine if it’s safe for your baby to drink. An overdose of fluoride can cause enamel fluorosis.
In case you’ve never heard of enamel fluorosis, it can lead to the development of lines or white spots on permanent teeth, even for babies who have not yet grown their first set of teeth.
If your tap water doesn’t have too much fluoride in it, use cold water and run it for a few minutes first before mixing formula.
You can find out how much fluoride is in your tap water by contacting your municipality. If it is too much, or if the idea of too much fluoride makes you nervous, you can use a different type of water instead.
Mixing Formula with Well Water
Even more affordable than tap water is well water if you happen to have a well. This water is pumped out of the ground and delivered through your home’s plumbing to the faucets.
Like tap water, there may be elements present in well water that will not harm an adult, but that can have a negative effect on a baby.
Take, for instance, nitrates.
Well water with more than 10 mg/L of nitrates can cause methemoglobinemia, which is a blood disorder that can lead to seizures, intellectual disability, and developmental delay, among other complications.
Nitrates are far more dangerous than fluoride, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your well water.
To ensure your baby’s safety, have your well water tested regularly. The test will confirm the concentration of nitrates, and the presence or absence of any other unsavory elements.
There are filtration systems that you can install in your home if you want to cleanse or purify your well water. Completing a water test will determine which types of systems can help. In many cases, filtering well water will benefit not only your baby, but also adults, other children, and any pets consuming that water.
If well water makes you nervous, or if tests have revealed that it’s unsafe for newborns to consume, don’t despair. There is one more type of water you can turn to.
Mixing Formula with Bottled Water
Bottled water won’t have an overabundance of fluoride or nitrates, so the concerns mentioned with tap water and well water need not weigh upon your mind if you have to feed your baby formula.
Just as there are different types of formula, there are different types of bottled water–everything from regular to distilled. Your pediatrician may recommend a specific kind of bottled water, but we’ll tell you a bit about each type:
- Spring water
- Artesian water
- Mineral water
- Purified water
Bottled water is great for at-home use, but it’s especially helpful to have when you need to travel. You might have your well water tested, or you might have called your municipality to find out the details of your tap water, but who knows what the water coming out of the sink at a restaurant three states away will be like?
Or at a relative’s home? You may have tested the water coming into your own house, but not your baby’s grandparents’ home or your best friend’s.
Bottled water can offer you peace of mind because you’ll know what you’re putting into the formula, and therefore into your baby.
Here’s one more tip about bottled water: Make sure you don’t use water that has been sitting out, open, for a long period of time.
Spring water, like well water, comes right from the ground. The difference between the two is purity. The earth itself filters out substances like nitrates so that the resulting water is pure.
Also like spring water and well water, artesian water comes from underneath the ground. It’s drawn from an aquifer.
Mineral water is just what it sounds like…water with minerals in it. It must meet certain criteria though for a concentration of minerals.
Mineral water is rarely a good choice for mixing formula because it can have added sodium, which your baby doesn’t need.
If you’ve heard of distilled water, that is a type of purified water. Though it is drawn from municipal water sources (like tap water), the processes to purify it remove the potential hazards of tap water.
In addition to distillation, those processes include:
- reverse osmosis
Each of these processes makes the water safer and safer for anyone to drink, even babies.
Purified water can be a great choice for mixing formula, but as always, check with your pediatrician first.
In addition to purified water, spring water is another top choice for mixing formula. Now you know that not all bottled water is equal, and you’ll know what to look for when it’s time to prepare your baby’s bottle.
There are other types of bottled water, such as sparkling, but babies shouldn’t have effervescence.
A Note on Boiling Water
No matter which type of water you elect to use, you may elect to boil it. Boiling water can serve a number of purposes.
It might remove any bacteria in the water itself. If you use well water, there may be bacteria present that adult bodies can handle, but babies cannot.
Even formula itself can grow bacteria. It’s called Cronobacter, and it can have dangerous ramifications if your baby ingests it.
However, for this benefit, if you boil the water too long or use it at the wrong temperature, you may inadvertently compound the problem.
You should only boil water for a minute before mixing formula with it. This will kill bacteria. If you boil the water too long, it might be too hot when you mix the formula.
If that happens, you might actually increase the concentration of bacteria. Talk to your pediatrician and consult the formula label for information on the best temperature for the water.
Giving Babies the Best
We take great care these days to ensure that we’re eating the healthiest foods from the best sources. Patrons at restaurants pay extra to know that their salad came from a local farm that uses only organic methods.
To care about what we put into our bodies is a great way to ensure our health. Babies deserve a least that, if not more. Make sure that just as you’ll spend time researching and choosing a formula, you’ll do the same for the type of water you give your baby.
Remember too that your pediatrician is a resource for you. She or he can help you know what kind of water to use no matter what type of baby formula you choose.
If you have any questions about baby formula or different types of water, we invite you to contact us. We’d love to have the opportunity to help you ensure your baby’s health and happiness, to get off to a great start in life.
Your baby has an important job, even from when she or he is first born. That’s to grow and to grow healthily. Your job is to help that process along so that your child can enjoy all of the promises of life.