Content Map Terms

Safe Drinking Water in Your Baby's First Year


an empty drinking glass


Did you know that some types of drinking water can be harmful to babies? If you get water from a private well or another non-regulated source like a creek or lake, get the water tested to make sure it's safe to drink.

Untreated water can contain harmful bacteria and chemicals. For example, high levels of nitrates have been found in wells throughout B.C. High nitrate levels can be dangerous for babies, interfering with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. In severe cases, this can be fatal.

For more information about the dangers of nitrates in well water, see the HealthLink BC file Nitrate Contamination in Well Water.

To protect your baby from contaminated water:

  • Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed for two years or more.
  • Have well water and other non-regulated water tested by a laboratory to see if it's safe to drink. For more information, see the HealthLink BC file Should I Get My Well Water Tested?
  • Never give your baby well water that hasn't been tested and determined to be safe.
  • Never give your baby formula or food mixed with well water that has not been tested and found safe.
  • If your drinking water comes from a creek, river, or lake, boil and cool before giving it to your baby. Boiling kills bacteria but does not remove chemicals.
  • Boil any type of water for one minute and then cool it to 70°C before mixing it with formula. For more information on safely preparing infant formula, visit the Health Canada website.

Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: How to Disinfect Drinking Water

Last Updated: August 11, 2013