Safe Water for Formula Feeding

When feeding your baby infant formula, it is important to ensure that:

  • The type of water you use is safe
  • You are sterilizing the equipment correctly
  • You are preparing the formula safely

If you use bottled water to prepare formula, it must still be boiled for at least two minutes before using. Do not use distilled water, fortified water, mineral water, softened tap water or carbonated water.

Contaminants that can make your water unsafe for preparing baby formula include:

  • Lead
  • Nitrates
  • Bacteria

If you use a municipal water supply

If your baby is receiving any formula, test your tap water for lead and follow the precautions under “Testing your water for lead”, or use boiled bottled water and prepare according to the recommendations for preparing formula. You can also consider using ready-to-feed formula.

If you use well water

If you are formula feeding your baby, do not use your well water to prepare formula until you have your water tested. Use ready-to-feed infant formula or use boiled bottled water to prepare concentrated or powdered infant formula.

We recommend you have your well water tested for bacteria, lead and nitrates. Nitrates are especially harmful to infants under six months of age. The health risk is immediate and can be fatal. An infant’s stomach is less acidic than an adult’s, and this allows bacteria to live in the stomach. These bacteria may change the nitrate to nitrite. Nitrite is toxic because it can combine with red blood cells and prevents them from carrying oxygen to the rest of the body. This condition is called methemologlobinemia. It can make infants turn blue from low oxygen.

Boiling your water will not get rid of nitrates – it will only concentrate them. Reverse osmosis or ion exchange devices will remove some nitrates. Check with the manufacturer of these treatment devices to ensure they remove enough nitrates to meet the standard. The treated water should be tested to ensure adequate nitrate removal.