Why do I need to boil the water?

One thing that will always bother me is that there’s not much information for bottle/formula feeders, at least in my area. Despite having had a bilateral mastectomy, which virtually guarantees that I will not be able to produce a full supply if I’m able to produce anything at all- I still only got lectured about breastfeeding. I now know more about how to breastfeed than I could ever need to. I know more about mammogenesis than I could ever need to. But no one told me about how to choose the right bottles, how to choose the right formula, or anything else.

So: Boiling water.

This is something that produces a lot of confusion. Why do I have to boil the water? Is it to kill germs in the water? In the formula? Can I boil a bunch of water and leave it to chill and use it throughout the day to make bottles? Do I need to make the entire bottle with freshly boiled water? How the hell am I supposed to make a bottle while my baby screams in hunger?


Sadly, the answers are few and far between. This post is the most useful answer I’ve found on the matter. The information it goes is as follows:

-Formula is not 100% germ free (it’s common for them to have warnings about not giving it to preemies and babies with immune problems in the US), there are periodic salmonella outbreaks linked to formula and also a bacteria that only 1 in 100,000 babies get- but which kills 20-50% of them.

-Boiling water (water over 70 degrees C according to this page) can kill bacteria

-You can then add cool water (note: NOT straight-from-the-tap water) to top off the bottle, making it a baby safe temperature.

-If you absolutely cannot get boiling water, make sure your baby drinks it all as quickly as possible to prevent bacterial growth. Make smaller bottles, even if it means making more bottles.

I’ve found that 2-3 oz of boiling water and 5-6 oz of cool water makes it warm, but not hot. Of course, I’ve also found that this causes the formula to flow more freely from the bottle and my baby will not take it, so lukewarm it is.

Some other advice:

-Don’t use tap water unless you know the water in your area is top notch. Where we go to school, it’s near a nuclear power plant so the water is high in mercury. Bad for babies.  Be careful about using bottled water, as some has high sodium/other things that you don’t want babies to have. They make nursery water specifically for babies, but check that it’s actually safe- way too many “for baby” things contain ingredients that are NOT good for babies. Use cooled boiled and/or filtered water.

-If you need to go out- you’ll probably need two containers for water. A thermos that keeps boiled water hot and a bottle for cooled water. And also formula. And whatever else you need. This alone will probably double or triple the weight of your diaper bag. Isn’t this so easy and convenient?

BPA free containers.

That site also talks about how to safely microwave formula.

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