Is Distilled Water Good for Babies? (An RDN Explains)

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As a new parent it is natural to want what is best for your baby including the food and water they drink. Since there are so many different types of water products available it can be challenging to know what’s the safest and healthiest option.

One question that arises is what water is best with baby formula – tap or distilled water? In this blog post, we will discuss what distilled water is, why it may be beneficial for baby formula, and what types of water are safe to drink for babies.

📌 Key Takeaways

  • Distilled water is created by boiling water, allowing it to evaporate, and then condensing the steam. This process removes minerals and other impurities that may be present in tap water, making it the purest form of water.
  • While distilled water lacks minerals, it can be used for baby formula because the formula already contains the recommended daily allowance of micronutrients.
  • Using distilled water for formula can help prevent dental fluorosis, a condition that can be caused by consuming too much fluoride.

🤔 What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is claimed by many to be the purest water you can drink. Essentially, distilled water is condensed steam from boiling water. When the water is boiled, the water evaporates and then condenses, creating “distilled water”.

Since minerals and other contaminants are not able to change to a gas state when heated, they are left behind in the distillation process.

Distilled water gets rid of all of the natural minerals and other impurities that may be in tap water including fluoride, calcium, magnesium, bacteria, pesticides, and other contaminants.

Distilled water production

🔎 Why Is Distilled Water Recommended For Baby Formula?

So, if distilled water lacks all minerals why is it safe for babies? Don’t they need minerals too?

Baby Formula and Minerals

Well, even though distilled water has its minerals removed it can be better for baby formula than tap water for a few different reasons.

The first thing to mention is that baby formula already has the recommended daily allowance of micronutrients so using demineralized water to prepare your baby formula will not lead to any nutrient deficiencies in your baby.

Tap Water and Fluoride

Additionally, distilled water can be beneficial to use because tap water often has fluoride added to it.

Tap water has fluoride added to it to prevent tooth decay, however if babies consume formula that is mixed with fluoridated water on a regular basis, it can increase risk for dental fluorosis.

Dental fluorosis is a condition that changes the appearance of tooth enamel and is caused by children consuming too much fluoride during the teeth forming years.

Distilled Water For Babies

In order to prevent this from happening, it is recommended to choose a low fluoride bottled water some of the time when preparing infant formula.

Bottled water products that are low in fluoride will be labeled as deionized, demineralized, purified, or distilled water. It is a requirement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to indicate when fluoride is added on the label.

Baby drinking distilled water

🚰 What Kind of Water Should Be Used For Babies?

As mentioned in the paragraph above, in order to prevent dental fluorosis sometimes parents may opt for bottled water or purified water products. However, this does not mean that other water is unsafe to drink for infants or babies.

In general, it is recommended that babies do not start drinking regular water until they start to transition off formula or breastmilk to baby food (usually around 6-12 months of age). All water including spring water, purified water, tap water and distilled water are all safe to drink for infants.

However, purified bottled water or distilled water for baby’s formula may be the best way to prevent dental fluorosis.

Fluoride Concentration In Drinking Water

As a parent, aside from using bottled distilled water for baby formula you can also determine the fluoride concentration in your primary water source.

Some regions of the US have a concentration greater than 2 mg/L of fluoride, at this concentration, children have an increased risk for developing dental fluorosis.

You can usually figure out the fluoride concentration of your tap water if you request the most recent Consumer Confidence Report from your local water utility company.

💡 If your water source contains greater than 2 mg/L of fluoride then it would be beneficial to consider these alternative low fluoride water sources mentioned earlier in the article.

Map detailing fluoride concentration in US
source: McMahon and others (2020), via United States Geological Survey

📑 Conclusion

In conclusion, as a new parent, you definitely want to give your baby the best possible start in life. When it comes down to water, there are many different types and it is important to know what types of water are safe and healthy for your new baby.

Even though distilled water lacks minerals, your baby formula contains what your baby needs for proper growth and development, so it is perfectly safe for your baby. It can be beneficial to choose a low fluoride water like distilled water to prevent dental fluorosis.

If you are concerned about dental fluorosis but rather not purchase bottled or purified water, contact your local water utility to get a recent report on the fluoride concentration in your tap water.

Always make sure to follow safety regulations for tap water, including regular water quality testing and the use of filters and purifiers if necessary. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your baby stays healthy and hydrated with safe and clean water.

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

Is Distilled Water Better Than Purified Water For Babies?

Purified or distilled water can be helpful in preventing dental fluorosis for formula fed babies. Neither one is more beneficial than the other.

Which Water is Best For Babies?

If you have a formula fed baby it can be beneficial to consider a purified water such as distilled water.

This is because distilled water has its minerals removed including fluoride. If a baby or infant has too much fluoride this can lead to dental fluorosis over time.

However, not all tap water has excess fluoride and it is important to know the fluoride concentration in your tap water since different regions may have higher concentrations.

A tap water with a higher concentration of fluoride (>2 mg/L) can increase risk for developing dental fluorosis.

Related: Can you use filtered water for baby formula?

Is Distilled Water Safe For Babies?

Yes, distilled water is safe for babies. It is purified from all bacteria, but also lacks all minerals. Even though it does not have any minerals this does not affect babies because baby formula has all the necessary nutrients the baby needs for proper growth and development including vitamins and minerals.

  • Roxanne Trotter
    MS, RDN

    Registered Dietitian Roxy, fueled by her love for food and wellness, tackles misinformation head-on. Her Master's in Human Nutrition and diverse experience (weight management, hospitals) equip her to translate complex health topics, especially those related to water quality. Through her own practice (Nutremedies LLC) and writing for Water Filter Guru, Roxy empowers readers with accurate, evidence-based information, helping them make informed choices for a healthier life, one sip at a time.

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