Infant formula: Is tap or bottled water better?

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Infant formula: Is tap or bottled water better?

Question

Is it safe to mix fluoridated tap water with infant formula? I've heard that too much fluoride can harm a baby's teeth.

Barb
Minnesota

Answer

It's considered safe to use fluoridated tap water to prepare infant formula.

Exposure to fluoride during infancy helps prevent tooth decay. However, regularly mixing powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with fluoridated water may increase your child's risk of developing faint white markings or streaks on the teeth — a sign of mild enamel fluorosis. Fluorosis is a cosmetic issue that affects both baby teeth and permanent teeth while they're forming under the gums. In children younger than age 8, combined fluoride exposure from all sources — water, food, toothpaste and other products — contributes to fluorosis.

If you're concerned about fluorosis, you can minimize your baby's exposure to fluoride by using ready-to-feed formula. You can also alternate using tap water and nonfluoridated water for formula preparation, or mix powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with low-fluoride water most or all of the time. However, if you use only nonfluoridated water — such as purified, demineralized, deionized or distilled bottled water — to prepare your baby's formula, your baby's doctor may recommend fluoride supplements beginning at age 6 months.

Last Updated: 2009-11-06
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