Drinking water for babies: tap water, mineral water or special "baby water"?
A question commonly asked by parents is: is your drinking water is suitable for your infant, should it be boiled first or is it better off avoided? Many people buy water which is specially designed for baby formula and have no idea of the possible dangers involved. This shows that people do not always have confidence in their own drinking water. Drinking water is, however, one of the most strictly regulated food items and is therefore better for baby formula than prepackaged mineral water from the supermarket. Mineral water is subject to the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water Regulations, but the parameters tested greatly differ from those of the Water Supply Regulations. Drinking water is more strictly regulated than mineral water and so tested tap water should be used for the preparation of infant formula. This is in line with NHS advice not to use bottled water to make up infant formula feed.
Avoid water from the supermarket
Various studies have shown that uncontaminated tap water is considerably healthier for babies and toddlers than mineral water from the supermarket. The levels of toxic substances in tap water are more strictly regulated than in mineral water due to the Water Supply Regulations. Nevertheless, time and time again, isolated cases of contamination can occur and can have a negative impact on the unborn baby as early as during pregancy. To be sure that your drinking water is really pure, we recommend our Baby Water Analysis. This test is specially designed to test the parameters which are important for your baby's nutrition. We do however recommend boiling the water, even after having your drinking water tested.
The Baby Water Analysis tests your drinking water for the following contaminants:
Infants and toddlers aged 0-4 are particularly vulnerable to lead in drinking water. High concentrations of lead have an huge influence on the nervous system and in some circumstances can cause considerable damage. Tests have shown adverse effects like decreased concentration levels, increased impulsiveness and diminished performance in intelligence tests and agility exercises.
Copper in tap water (for example as a result of copper pipes) can cause considerable health problems to infants and toddlers when ingested via drinking water on a longterm basis, but may be problematic for adults too. Copper can settle in an infant's liver and cause liver cirrhosis.
Nickel can get into our drinking water through chrome-plated fittings, for example. Nickel does not only pose a health risk for allergy sufferers, but regular inhalation of water containing high levels of nickel can lead to lung cancer and tumours. Babies and toddlers in particular should not ingest any tap water containing nickel.
Infants react very sensitively to nitrite in the first months of life. Ingesting nitrite causes the red blood cells to mutate. This can lead to a lack of oxygen because the transport of oxygen is impaired by nitrite. Suffocation can be a consequence of lack of oxygen.
A high intake of nitrate or nitrite poses a huge health risk to infants in the first months of life. A condition known as methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome) can occur. If gastrointestinal infections arise, there is a risk that nitrate may be converted into nitrite.
Infants react particularly sensitively to sodium because their kidneys are not fully formed. An increased intake of sodium, for example through drinking water, adversely affects a child's gut flora. Even for adults, an increased intake of sodium can lead to high blood pressure or any of the cardiovascular diseases resulting from this.
An increased intake of sulphate has a laxative effect and can cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Infants and toddlers react particularly sensitively to sulphate because their kidneys are not fully formed and so the excess sulphate cannot be properly excreted.
Attention: to rule out the presence of bacteria and other heavy metals in your drinking water, we recommend our Combined Test Kit. You can find more information here.
Don't know which test is right for you? You can find all of our water test kits here.