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What Type of Water is Safe to Give Babies?

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baby drinking waterbabies younger than 6 months of age who are breastfeeding or formula feeding do not need supplemental water according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The water provided in breastmilk/formula is sufficient for hydration needs at this time. When water is introduced or when it is used for formula preparation, using water that has the least contamination is best. 


Most of us believe that bottle water is superior to tap water. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that bottled water may contain hazardous chemicals and is not cleaner than tap

     Reverse Osmosis Water Filters
Reverse Osmosis Filter

water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on EPA’s tap water standards. Bottled water and tap water are both safe to drink if they meet these standards, although people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all.”

To ensure the best water quality for your family (especially when giving water to your infant or when preparing formula):

  • Find out what contaminates are lurking in your water supply. Bottled water manufacturers are not required to submit this information whereas city water must provide this information to the public. To find out what is in your water, you can:
    •  Obtain a copy of your annual water quality report (also known as the Consumer Confidence Report: find yours online here)
    • Call your local water authority for more information regarding contaminants in the local water supply
    • Call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791
    • Have your water tested by an independent certified laboratory (find your local state certification officer). The EPA  recommends annual well water testing for nitrates, cloriform bacteria and other contaminants.

  • Utilize a filter that specifically removes the contaminants found and remember to change the filter as recommended. Old filters can harbor dangerous bacteria. Fluoride is added to water supplies to reduce incidences of tooth decay. Fluoride should not be given to children under 6 months of age because this can lead to fluorosis which causes staining of tooth enamel. Fluoride has also been linked to neurological problems and there is much controversy surrounding fluoride supplementation. To ensure adequate removal of fluoride, use a reverse osmosis filtration system. Boiling water for a full minute is effective in killing organisms such as cryptosporidium (a parasite), but does not remove minerals. Lead and fluoride are concentrated in the water once it has been boiled. Reverse osmosis filtration also removes lead, perchlorate (rocket fuel chemical), cryptosporidium and other contaminates.
What Can I Do About Flouride In My Water?

 

   
  • If you have an older home or have lead pipes, it is recommended that only COLD water is used to make formula, cook with or to warm up bottles since warm or hot water can leach lead from the pipes into the water. Also, allow the water to flow for approximately 1 minute prior to use to flush out the impurities.
    • If choosing bottled water, choose one that is fluoride-free and one which provides the following information so that you know the source of your water:
    • Name & Location of water source
    • Type of filtration process used 
    • If available, contaminates present in water.

Want to buy a water filter but don’t know where to start? There are many different types of filters which range in cost and contaminate removal. Use the following chart to help you determine what type of filter you need:

Type of Contaminant

 

Type of Filtration

 

Giardia and Cryptosporidium

Distillation

Reverse osmosis

Absolute one micron filters

Ultraviolet light

Filters certified for cyst removal

Bacteria and Viruses

Distillation

Reverse osmosis

Ultraviolet light

Disinfection

Arsenic

Adsorptive media

Disinfection byproducts

Point-of-Entry adsorptive media systems distillation

Aeration

Carbon filtration

Reverse osmosis

Lead

Distillation

Reverse osmosis

Some carbon filters

Nitrates

Distillation

Reverse osmosis

Ion exchange

Pesticides

Some carbon filters

Radium

Ion exchange

Distillation

Reverse osmosis

Radon

Activated carbon filter

Aeration

Source: EPA. Water Health Series Filtration Facts (pdf)


The EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide is a great resource and a great place to start your research. When selecting a water filtration system be sure that it is certified by one of the following: NSF International, Underwriters Laboratories or Water Quality Association. An EPA registration number does not mean that the water has been certified, rather it means that the filter uses a bacteriostatic agent (usually silver) to slow the growth of microbes within the filter.

Remember, that water used throughout your home may contain these contaminants and exposure to them can occur while washing hands, showering or brushing your teeth. If financially feasible, a whole house water filtration system is recommended to reduce your family’s exposure.

To learn more about Water, visit:
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Working Group
The Facts about Water- Quality & Safety

Sources:
American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 2 February 2005, pp. 496-506
Environmental Working Group (2008). Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants
Environmental Working Group. EWG's Guide to Infant Formula and Baby Bottles: Safe Baby Bottle and Formula Guide
Environmental Protection Agency. Ground Water and Drinking Water
Environmental Protection Agency. Is There Lead in my Drinking Water?
Environmental Protection Agency. Water Health Series Filtration Facts
Fluoride Action Network. Fluoride Notice for Infants Legislation Overview

 

 

 

 
 
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