So one of the reasons that formula feeding is not encouraged is due to the high rate of sickness caused due to incorrectly mixing formula or using unsterile water and non-sterilised bottles resulting in the creation of harmful bacteria.
At times I have thought about trying to eradicate the issue of using unsterile water and immediately my question was: Is it safe to use bottled or mineral water instead of boiled water from a water source? I bet that you have used bottled water when traveling for the sake of convenience and thought it was okay! There are mixed views and we wanted facts. We took some pointers from a brand manager of a leading formula brand, who stressed that “The mom/caregiver should always follow the mixing instructions as per the label on the packaging of the product”, which happens to be legislated and states that only safe, drinkable, previously boiled water should be used.
“Unless the bottled water is guaranteed as “microbial free” water, the chance of microbial/bacterial contamination might be a risk. So safer not to use this water even though it is sealed and seemingly cleaner and safer,” pointed out the brand manager.
We contacted SANBWA (South African National Bottled Water Association) for guidance on this and their response was as follows: “By definition, Natural Bottled Water does contain variable levels of naturally occuring bacteria. These are not pathogens, i.e.: they do not harm humans, with the possible exception of some immune compromised individuals.
To be safe use only properly sealed bottles, not a bottle that has previously been opened, if previously opened, then boiling is a must. And to be safer still, boil water as per normal, even if from a properly sealed and unopened bottle.
The big advantage of using bottled water is that there will be no trace of pesticides and other man-made chemicals that are often found in our municipal water supply.”
General industry thoughts on bottled water is that it contains minerals (sodium etc.) which varies between brands and therefore it is difficult to determine its “impact” on the formula composition. Even though it is bottled water by not boiling it, it is still not sterile.
I believed that bottled water can also contain fluoride and continued exposure to fluoride can lead to fluorosis, which leaves white streaks on babies teeth during enamel formation, however, SANBWA have confirmed that bottled water in SA actually “contains negligible amounts of flouride. Our ground water by nature of geology does not yield flouride rich water” and nothing is added to it when bottled.
I was always also under the impression that the chemicals from the plastic bottles can leach into the water and contaminate it however, the SANBWA have confirmed that this is actually a “popular urban myth and has been debunked by many credible scientific sources in recent years.
So there you have it. . . Don’t be lazy or cut corners at the expense of your baby – I would personally say to always boil your water and let it cool down before using but now that you know the facts, you can make your own decisions.