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Do we have to sterilize water for formula, and how long can it be used after it is sterilized?

Answer: 

No.

However, as a precaution, it is generally recommended to boil the water used for infant formula preparation during the first three months of life. Parents should consult their infant's health care provider regarding whether the water used for infants should be boiled when the infant is older than three months. If a caregiver is in doubt about the safety of the water supply, he or she should find an alternate source of clean water and have the parents consult the infant's health care provider as soon as possible.

This information is consistent with guidance issued from the Women, Infant and Children's (WIC) Program. The USDA Mountain Plains Regional Office has given the Iowa CACFP State Agency permission to use this guidance instead of the guidance in USDA's Feeding Infants, A Guide for Use in the Child Nutrition Programs (2002), which requires boiling all infant water regardless of the infant's age.

Additional information:

  • The Iowa State Agency recommends preparing boiled water daily and storing in a clean, covered container that can be easily and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized for reuse.
  • If water is boiled in the microwave, it should be heated only in containers labeled for use in the microwave and allowed to cool completely before using.

Do not assume that bottled water is safer than tap water. You may find some bottled water labeled as intended for use by infants. According to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) website, this means "the water must meet the same standards established for tap water by the Environmental Protection Agency. The label must also indicate that the bottled water is not sterile. Water that is sterilized by the manufacturer and intended for use with infants must meet certain strict FDA standards". If you are interested in the quality of a specific brand of bottled water, contact the bottler directly.

FAQ Category: 

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 18, 2014 at 2:12pm.