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What Water Do You Use for Formula?


When it’s time to prepare infant formula, your first instinct might be to reach for the tap. However, the truth is that not all tap water is the same. Quality can differ depending on location, source and even your home’s plumbing.

That’s why regular tap water isn’t the best choice for baby formula. Instead, use tap water that’s been filtered using a high-quality, comprehensive home filtration system.*

The problem is that filter solutions can vary just as much as the water they treat. How do you know which is right for you, your home and your baby’s needs? The good news is that you can always take control of your water quality — and it all begins with the right information.

Read on to learn more about different water types, filter systems and testing solutions that make baby bottle preparation easier than ever.

Tap Water for Baby Formula

When it comes to infant formula, one of the best ingredients could be right at your fingertips. That’s because tap water has a lot of benefits all on its own.

To begin with, tap water in North America typically has a lot of quality assurance measures already in place. Thanks to a long history of public health innovations and treatment solutions, we know a lot about how to find, store, move and improve water.

But that’s not all. Tap water is also far more convenient than other options — not just because it’s right at your kitchen faucet, but because you don’t have to move or manage it yourself. If you relied on single-use bottled water instead, you’d have to haul it back from the store regularly (and find a place to store it). That would create extra work, high costs and no small amount of plastic pollution, especially considering how often you’d need nursery water.

However, that doesn’t mean the tap is perfect. City water systems can’t account for everything, like issues with your home’s plumbing, and may not be equipped to handle emerging contaminants that aren’t yet part of federal drinking water regulations.** Some treatment solutions even introduce issues that impact your enjoyment of tap water — like chlorination, which kills harmful bacteria and viruses but can also create a strong bleach-like or swimming-pool odor.

That’s why it’s important to brush up on a few key considerations when using tap water for baby formula:

Water Source

When you turn on your faucet, you’re likely getting one of two things:

  • Groundwater: This water filters through layers of soil and rock, eventually reaching natural underground storage tanks called aquifers.
  • Surface water: Lakes, reservoirs, rivers, streams and other bodies of water are all part of this category. Oceans technically count too, but they’re a less common source because it’s more difficult to make saltwater potable.

Notice that both groups have strong ties to natural cycles and systems. As discussed above, public water suppliers use scientifically researched methods to improve water quality — but sometimes, issues can still find their way to your tap.

City vs. Well Water

Does your water come from the city? If so, it has the advantage of being treated using methods like chlorination and filtration. However, if you use a private well, your water isn’t managed by any federal entity.

That’s only one of the many differences between city and well water. They generally don’t have the same sources, contaminants and hardness levels. While you can take additional steps to make both options safe to use with formula powder, you may need a different game plan depending on where your drinking water comes from.

Want to learn more about wells?

Download our FREE guide for cleaner, safer well water.

Professional Testing

You should have a professional water test at least once a year.

For city water users, these tests help identify issues that might happen after municipal treatment (like heavy metals from home plumbing) or impurities the city isn’t equipped to handle yet (like “forever chemicals”).

Well users need these tests because no one else is looking out for your water quality. Regular testing helps ensure your water source, pump and piping are all working properly; it also checks for common well water issues like hardness.

Unfiltered vs. Filtered Water

Because even city treatment isn’t perfect, you can consider all tap water “unfiltered” for the purposes of preparing powdered infant formula. This makes it easier to understand where home filtration comes in.

It’s nearly impossible to achieve 100% purity; even water in nature isn’t completely pure. However, filtered water can come with more certainty. That’s because home filtration puts you in charge of what’s in your baby bottle or drinking glass. You also get to know what kinds of contaminants you’re targeting, what processes the system uses and when you perform maintenance. That way, you know what you’re signing up for when you turn on the tap.

Simply put, drinking water filtration systems are an effective, cost-efficient way to improve water quality for everyone in your home.

What Other Types of Water Are There?

Tap water is generally the best choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only choice. Here’s a look at other water types some people use for formula preparation:

Bottled Water

Some sources say you can use single-use bottled water for formula feeding. Others say this only works if you boil the water first. There are even some brands that sell water specifically designed for baby products. What does it all mean?

The most important thing to remember is that bottled water often isn’t a practical choice anyway. Single-use bottles are pricey and bad for the environment — and every brand could have different additives you might not want for your baby. On top of that, bottled water may be sourced from the same places as city water, which means it’s not necessarily safer.

What else could be in single-use bottled water? Learn about the latest research on microplastics.

There’s an exception to this rule: emergencies. Water or public health authorities may recommend that you use bottled water for infant formula if there’s a serious issue with nearby water sources or systems.

Purified Water

Many water brands call themselves “purified” — but does that mean they’re equally good for preparing powder formula?

First, it’s important to know that not all purification techniques are the same. For example, both filtration and distillation technically purify water, but they don’t always target the same issues and impurities. Next, keep in mind that even purified water isn’t perfect. City water goes through purification treatments, but it could still contain “forever chemicals” and microplastics.

For parents preparing homemade infant formula, that means two things:

  • Purified water is just an umbrella term. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t guarantee water quality because you may not know what specific water issues are targeted by the selected treatment process..
  • At-home filtration is still a top solution. This way, you don’t have to constantly research additives, purification techniques or potential contaminants; instead, you already have the information and control you need.

Mineral and Spring Water

You might have read that mineral and spring water are fine for your baby — and that may be true in certain cases. However, every brand has different additives (and in varying amounts), which means you’d have to do a lot of research just to determine what you’re actually getting. On top of that, the main draw of spring water is that it’s generally considered pre-filtered by nature, so its actual purity might not match what you’re looking for.

Water FAQs: Preparing Infant Formula

There’s a lot to know about preparing powdered formula with tap water. Check out these common questions:

Is Fluoridated Water Safe for Babies?

Many public water supplies have added fluoride to support dental health. While this is generally safe for babies, it can potentially lead to mild dental fluorosis, a condition that leaves discolored spots on developing teeth. Fortunately, many reverse osmosis water filtration systems can address fluoride before you even turn on the tap.

Is Boiling Water Better Than Filtration?

Sometimes, you may need to use cooled boiled water to prepare baby formula. This is generally during emergencies or boil advisories, which your city should tell you about.

But when it comes to boiling vs. filtration, it’s important to know that the two processes are entirely different. Boiling isn’t a form of purification that works for all possible contaminants and doesn’t address the same impurities as other methods; it’s good for specific needs but not everyday water treatment.

Should You Use Soft Water for Baby Formula?

When tap water has too many minerals like calcium and magnesium, it’s considered hard. This is especially common in well water, but it occurs in varying degrees across North America (and the world).

Hard water isn’t generally a health or safety concern. It’s an issue in plenty of other ways, though. Hardness can lead to soap scum, spotty dishes, faded or rough laundry, reduced water pressure and more. On top of that, minerals can build up on your skin, hair and scalp when washing or bathing, and that could lead to dryness, itchiness, discomfort and more.

That means you may not need to worry about soft water for formula, but it’s still a better choice for your baby’s sensitive skin. Fortunately, there are plenty of water softener systems that put you in control of your water’s hardness levels and overall feel.

Great Water for Your Whole Family

Although you can use many types of water to prepare powdered formula, filtered water is often your best bet. It’s not just convenient — it’s also cleaner, clearer and more delicious than other options. Plus, home filtration allows you to customize your treatment based on your biggest concerns.

Better water for your whole family starts with just one click. Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation today.


*Your doctor should always be your first resource for any health-related questions about your baby.

**Contaminants may not be present in your water.

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