A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post about the fact that, contrary to what new parents are often advised, breastfed babies do not need extra water in hot weather. I mentioned that the situation was a little different when it comes to formula fed babies, and also that it is important to be careful when using bottled water either to supplement the fluid they’re getting in hot weather, or to make up their feeds in the first place.
This is important because of the mineral content in many bottled waters, which may be dangerously low or high for small babies. The safest water to use in the UK is tap water, which must be boiled and used no cooler than 70C to make up the feed. Then it must be allowed to cool further before you give it to your baby. The high temperature is to kill any bacteria that might be present in the powdered formula.
But what happens if you’re abroad, in a country where you can’t trust the tap water? Well, there are some bottled waters that are safe to use. What you need to know is that some bottled water is regulated, and some isn’t. In general, bottled water that says ‘natural mineral water’ on the label is not regulated and could be dangerous for your baby to use.
The safest way of checking, though, is to check the sodium and sulphate levels on the label. To be safe to give to a baby, they must have:
less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre of sodium (sometimes written as Na)
less than 250mg per litre of sulphate (sometimes written as SO or SO4)
You may find that what you read on the label contravenes what you’re reading here. Some manufacturers have started producing bottled water for babies that says things like ‘no need to boil’ on the label. Please ignore such statements – all bottled water, unless it is labelled specifically as sterile, should be boiled.
If you boycott Nestle, you may also want to avoid the following bottled water brands that are owned by Nestle, although clearly this is an ethical issue, not a safety one!
Please share this post with anyone who may be formula feeding and isn’t yet aware of the bottled water issue – it seems that it’s shockingly not widely publicised.