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Facts that you always wanted
to know about water

Warning: Why tap water can be dangerous for your baby! 👶🏻

This blog post is about a topic that is likely to be of particular interest to new parents: What water should I use to make baby food? And is it safe to use tap water?

Baby is drinking milk from the bottle

Have you just become a mum or dad and want nothing but the best for your baby?

I feel the same way. I've been the proud father of my son Kiyan since the beginning of the year and I'm very careful about what he drinks.

Babies are sensitive creatures and need to get used to breast milk or milk substitutes, especially after birth. As a certified Water Sommelier, I know the importance of water quality in the preparation of infant formula.

We compare tap water and mineral water in terms of water treatment and mineralisation.

1. Water treatment

1.1 What is allowed in the treatment and disinfection of mineral water?

Let's take a look at the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance. Section 6 regulates the production process. It states that

  • only volatile substances such as iron and sulphur compounds may be removed by filtration or decantation.

  • iron, manganese and sulphur compounds as well as arsenic may be removed by air enriched with ozone (but only under very specific conditions), and

  • carbon dioxide may be removed or added.

More than that is not allowed! 🚫

1.2 What is allowed when treating and disinfecting tap water?

The Drinking Water Ordinance refers to the publication of the Federal Environment Agency.

The list of permitted treatment substances begins on page 9 of the document. Over eleven pages, substances such as ethanol, helium, ozone and phosphoric acid are listed. A total of 60 Chemikalien‼️ There are also treatment substances and processes that can be used to disinfect water. For example, treatments with UV, ozone or chlorine gas solutions are listed.

As you can see, there are clear differences between mineral water and tap water. Those who say that tap water is the best controlled food will now know why 😉

2. Minerals

Why is it important to look at minerals?

The answer is simple. Some of them can be harmful to babies in large quantities. Also, babies are not yet able to digest many minerals, which can cause diarrhoea 💩

2.1 When can a mineral water be labelled as "suitable for infant formula"?

Section 15 of the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance sets out clear maximum limits (see 2.2) which must be complied with. A mineral water may only be labelled "suitable for the preparation of infant formula" if none of the substances exceeds the permitted limits.

2.2 What limits apply to tap water?

While the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance sets clear limits for certain minerals, the Drinking Water Ordinance is more general and therefore applies equally to adults and infants.

The following table shows the difference between the limits for mineral water and tap water:

Overview restrictions on suitability for infant formulaser

A comparison of the limit values for the two types shows a big difference in the case of nitrate, for example. Nitrate is a compound that can enter drinking water via agricultural fertilisers or waste water. In babies, nitrate can lead to methaemoglobinaemia, a serious condition that can affect the supply of oxygen. While the limit for mineral and table water is 10 mg per litre, tap water can contain 50 mg per litre. The level for tap water is therefore five times higher than for mineral water.

Another example is sodium. Together with chloride, it is nothing more than table salt. In the worst case, too much of it can lead to salt poisoning in babies. While the limit for tap water is 200 mg per litre, the limit for baby mineral water is only 20 mg per litre. Here even ten times as much!

But why are there such big differences? We can only speculate 🤷‍♂️

3. Am I affected?

Unfortunately, it's impossible to say for sure. You would have to go to your water supplier's website and check the results.

Verteilung der Nitratkonzentration im EUA-Grundwassermessnetz 2021

The fact is that the limit for nitrate - 50 mg - is exceeded at around 16 per cent of tap water measuring points in Germany. If the limit were lowered to 10 mg per litre, not even 50 per cent of measuring points would comply.

In other words: tap water in half of Germany is not suitable for use in baby food.‼️ (Source: Umweltbundesamt)

Here is an example from the Franconian district water supply. In this area, the nitrate content is always above 10 mg per litre. If these waters were bottled as mineral water, none of them would be approved as "suitable for baby food". There are also outliers with sodium levels above 20 mg per litre.

4. My advice

If you want to continue using tap water for your baby, check the water quality in your area carefully. Check not only the nitrate and sodium content, but also things like pharmaceutical residues, pesticides, the quality of the water pipes, etc. In any case, you should boil tap water before using it ♨️

If you want to be on the safe side, I recommend using a suitable mineral water. Look for the words "suitable for use in the preparation of baby food". In most cases you will find this on the bottle label.

I have listed six examples from the German market below:

I hope this article has answered any questions you may have about this topic. If you still have any questions, please feel free to email me at or fill out this form.

Best regards

Timo Bausch

Certified Water Sommelier

And don't forget: Drink water, #stayhydrated


About Timo Bausch

My fascination with mineral waters began in 2016 during my training as a Water Sommelier. Since then, I have been exploring the characteristics and diversity of water. In addition to pairing water with food, wine, coffee and other beverages, I offer the creation of water menus for restaurants and hotels. Furthermore, it is also important to me to draw attention to the importance of drinking water.


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