Choosing bottled water for babies

We are lucky we live in a country where the tap water is usually drinkable – although the recommendations (1) are still to use “cooled boiled water” for a baby rather than straight from the tap. However recent weather extremes (both hot and cold) have resulted in water shortages, so it does raise the question what do you if the supply is restricted and you need water for babies to drink or mix formula?

Or if like me you live in a high limescale area normal tap water might not cut it anyway. The problem is if we boil tap water the kettle is banjaxed in a couple of weeks, and the water ends up with a film on top that tastes awful, and would put anyone off water for life

I am thinking about this at the moment because I want to introduce a sippy cup (or beaker) of water to my baby in the next month. You’d think that was simple right? But like all things associated with a baby it’s not as straightforward as it first appears.

I want to try it because she’ll be starting weaning soon, and I’ve seen it recommended that you should offer water at the same time as solids to prevent constipation. I’ve also never had any success getting my little one to drink breast milk from a bottle, so I want to try offering it to her in a sippy cup. However rather than waste precious breast milk it seems easier to try it out with water first.

Normally at home we filter the water first before we fill the kettle. It’s very hard to find information on how the filters work, but I seem to remember from chemistry class that the calcium ions that form limescale (calcium carbonate) are trapped on the filter but sodium ions are released in their place. This results in water with a higher sodium content. Little babies don’t have as mature kidneys so excess sodium (salt) can build up in their bodies – so filtered water is not recommended. Even if the amount of sodium is very low we are not the best at changing and cleaning the filter so I won’t be using that.

For the same reason some bottled waters aren’t suitable, because they have a higher sodium content. That was traditionally part of their selling point as “mineral waters”. Some articles recommend avoiding waters labelled natural mineral waters (2) but I prefer to check the actual sodium content. According to Aptaclub (3) we should be looking for sodium levels less than 20 milligrams per litre (mg/L). Sodium can appear on the label as sodium, sodium chloride, salt or the abbreviations Na or NaCl.

Typical label layout

Therefore I did a little survey in my local Tesco and Supervalu supermarkets to find out which bottled waters might be suitable and see if there is much difference (see table below):

Brand Sodium (Na) mg/L
Ballygowan 15
Celtic Pure 20
Evian 6.5
Solan De Cabas 5
Supervalu Daily Basics 18
Supervalu Still Water 18
Tesco Slievenamom 18
Tipperary 20
Volvic 12

I was hoping I would be pleasantly surprised and the cheaper ones might actually be lowest in sodium, but that was not the case. As you can see none are dangerously high but there is some variation so it’s worth shopping around and checking labels.

Now I know which water I can buy I just need to choose a sippy cup. I thought they all were the same, but I am now discovering there is a whole range of different styles and spouts, so I guess I’ll have to find the best by trial and error…..

Drinking water always seemed such a simple everyday thing to me, it was just something I did without thinking. But when you have a baby you want the best for them and suddenly have a new perspective . There’s no such thing as a simple thing, but it’s worth doing a little research to keep them safe – and I hope this might be of use to other people too.

References:

1) https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/child/cfyb/0-6mths/feeding/

2) http://www.thejournal.ie/hse-water-restrictions-advice-4104357-Jul2018/

3) https://www.aptaclub.ie/blog/bottled-water-for-baby/

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