Whether it's time to introduce your child to water or you’re just making formula, you might be wondering, can babies drink distilled water? Is it the safest choice? Here is what you need to know about giving your baby distilled water.
If you’re wondering if babies can drink distilled water—we have some good news for you. The answer is “Yes,” according to Ellen McCue, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at NAPS, which is an online newborn and parenting education and support platform.
There’s just one issue that could come up when giving distilled water to babies, according to Chanel Kenner, Registered Dietician (RD). It’s unsafe for babies to drink too much distilled water or any type of water due to the risk of water intoxication. “It’s possible to disrupt a baby's electrolyte balance by providing large amounts of water [distilled or not] outside of breast milk or formula. In extreme cases, water intoxication is a possible negative outcome if a baby is given large amounts of water without corresponding electrolytes,” she explains.
Babies can drink distilled water as soon as it's safe and healthy for them to drink any water on their own, which is usually around six months of age, according to McCue. This is around the time that most parents start offering solid foods. Keep in mind it’s best to ask your pediatrician about the most appropriate time to begin this process. Babies under six months cannot have water without infant formula mixed in as it can upset the balance of electrolytes in their bodies.
“When you start offering solid foods, offer a sippy cup of water as well. They might only have half an ounce to one ounce daily, and that's okay,” explains the nurse. “Formula or breast milk is their main source of nutrition, so drinking water alone is just for practice and fun.”
While drinking distilled water is smart, babies don’t necessarily need to drink distilled or purified water. According to Kenner, babies can drink most types of water safely. "Purified, deionized, demineralized, or distilled are safe for babies. These methods ensure that fluoride has been removed from the water so that it won't be harmful to your baby.”
Babies can drink whatever water their parents drink except under rare circumstances. “If your tap water is safe to drink, your baby can drink it,” says McCue. “So, if you drink distilled bottled water, your baby can have some as well.”
If you drink tap water at home, getting a bottle of purified or spring water when you’re out on the go and giving it to your baby is absolutely fine. You can experiment with a variety of water brands and types to see what your baby likes to drink the most.
Not only can you use distilled water for baby formula—you probably should use it. Kenner touts distilled water is the best choice overall for formula since it is completely free of minerals. So it will not compromise the balance of nutrients in the formula. Just note the amount you are giving your child and make sure the formula to water ratio is properly measured.“There are no minerals in distilled water, which is the main reason it is used for babies who are formula-fed.”
Still, Kenner notes that babies need minerals in their diets. While it might sound counterintuitive, this is exactly why distilled water is best. “They will get all the minerals they need from baby formula. If tap or spring water is used, it is much harder for parents and caregivers to control the amount of minerals the baby is getting.”
However, McCue tells me using tap water in the formula isn't unsafe. “You do not need to buy water for mixing formula. If your tap water is safe for you to drink, it is safe for your baby.”
Distilled water is safe for babies. It is fine for them to have any kind of water as long as it is safe for drinking.
“You don't need to boil distilled water. You don’t need to worry about bacteria or other harmful substances because they are not present,” says Kenner. “It is completely clean and pure. Save your time and energy, especially during those middle-of-the-night feeds.”
You can buy large jugs of distilled water at most supermarkets and drugstores. You can also make your own distilled water by boiling tap water and adding ice. Just make sure that it cools down before giving it to the baby or mixing it with formula.
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