How to make your tap water safe for babies
Our children are the most precious things in the world to us, particularly those first 18 months when everything is so fresh, new, and potentially fraught with danger. It’s understandable, therefore, that new parents would want to take every possible measure to ensure their little pride and joys are as safe and healthy as possible. That includes keeping your babies hydrated.
Because while they might subsist on a diet of milk and formula alone for the first 6 months, once they start eating solid food then they should start being fed small amounts of water. But is simple tap water safe? And if not, how can we make it safe for our babies?
Is tap water safe for babies?
Whether or not your tap water is safe for infant consumption will depend on two things – where you’re located and if you have a water filter. Public tap water is safe to drink in most areas of the UK. Indeed, many experts agree it’s better for infants than bottled water, which might contain minerals they are not used to. It’s also not sterile and is more likely to contain microplastics than tap water.
Boiled or filtered water?
The real question isn’t should I be feeding my baby tap water, but should I be feeding them filtered or boiled tap water? Boiling the water is a tried and tested method that works because it boils away most of the bacteria that babies might struggle with due to their immature immune systems. Powdered baby formula should also only be used with water that has been boiled for at least a few minutes.
Boiling water, however, doesn’t remove contaminants like lead and nitrates, so it’s infinitely safer to use filtered water. A high-quality water filter will dramatically reduce the risk of your baby developing complications from tap water consumption. Either carbon block filters installed on the faucet itself or more comprehensive filters installed under your sink will work. You should always check the filter is properly maintained though and that filters are washed and changed regularly.
Introducing water to your baby
The best way to introduce water to your child is to do so slowly and, in a cup, or beaker that’s familiar to them. Use a free-flow cup to help them learn to sip and protect their teeth. It might be a little messy, to begin with, but they will soon get the hang of it. After about 6 months, when they are approaching their first birthday, consider weaning them off the bottle entirely and help them migrate to open cups.
If you are boiling your water, meanwhile, you will want to let it cool for no longer than about half an hour. Any longer than this and bacteria can start to collect. A top tip is to boil a decent amount of water in advance and keep it cooled in the fridge so you can be ready to go whenever your little one fancies a quick drink!
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