Parents with newborns often have concerns about the best type of water for babies, and in particular, whether tap water and mineral water are safe for babies, and which is the best for ease-of-digestion and healthy growth and development.
Concern over toxins in tap water has led many households to opt for mineral water. When choosing which type of mineral water to use, there are several factors for consideration. As baby milk formula is produced with the optimum levels of minerals in the powder, it is important not to interfere with this balance with the type of water used, as water with high mineral content may cause upset stomachs and other health concerns.
Hard vs Soft Mineral Water for Babies
Hard vs Soft Mineral Water
All water can be classified by hardness. Water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium--over 120mg/L, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO),
--is known as “hard water”. Water containing smaller amounts of these minerals--less than 120mg/L--is known as “soft water.” The chart below helps to illustrate WHO guidelines.
WHO (World Health Organization) Criteria
|Soft||Medium Soft||Hard||Very Hard|
Hardness Formula＝Calcium (mg/L)×2.5+Magnesium (mg/L)×4.1
Babies and Hard Mineral Water
As the internal organs of babies have not yet fully developed, hard water can put a burden on their kidneys and digestive stems, as it’s harder to processes the minerals. This may lead to diarrhea, stomach aches, or other undesirable physical conditions.
A baby’s organs become developed around 2 to 3 years of age. Before then, it’s best to refrain from the use of hard water in powdered milk and never give it to baby directly to drink.
Babies and Soft Water
Contrary to hard water, soft mineral water contains less minerals, therefore not putting burden on a baby’s organs. WHO defines soft water as containing mineral content below 120mg/L, but powdered milk producers generally recommend even lower mineral content (100 mg/L or below) for use with their products.
When Can Babies Have Mineral Water?
Soft Water is Safe to Drink from Birth if Used in Powdered Milk
As long as you use soft mineral water containing less amounts of minerals, and combined with powdered milk formula, this water will have will be safe to use for the baby from birth.
During the first 5-6 months after birth and before starting on solid baby food, babies don’t require other sources of nutrition than their mother’s milk or baby formula, as breast milk supplies the proper amount of hydration as well as nutritional intake. That said, soft mineral water can be used in powdered milk.
When it is Safe for Baby to Drink Mineral Water
Babies under 1 year old who are still on formula and have not yet begun eating solids should not be drinking tap water or mineral water directly.
However, babies aged 1 or over, who have already begun eating solid food, may gradually be given soft mineral water or tap water along with snacks and meals; tap water and soft mineral water actually have the same mineral content.
As for hard water, the primary growth period for the development of a child’s organs happens between 2 and 3 years of age. A child may begin drinking hard mineral water only after the normal functioning of organs begins at around age 5.
|OK for Use with Powdered Milk||OK to Drink Directly|
|Soft Water||From Birth onward||From age 1|
|Hard Water||×||From age 5|
Soft Mineral Water is the Best Water for Babies
Soft mineral water, which has fewer minerals than hard water, can be safely used in powdered milk. Premium Water, a soft water containing only 25 mg of calcium/magnesium, is one example of water that fits into this category and is therefore safe for baby.
Hard mineral water should not be fed directly to infants as this causes a burden on their organs. Please wait until your baby becomes a toddler before letting him or her drink hard mineral water.
Other than use with powdered milk and baby food, depending on the type of mineral water as well as how you drink it, you can introduce mineral water directly into your child’s diet after a certain age. We hope that you—and your child—can put it to good use!