Nursery Water vs. Bottled Spring Water
These two items are NOT interchangeable, and it is important to know the difference between the two. Bottled spring water is just that, pure, fresh water from the ground, generally bottled at the source. Usually very healthy, and what you yourself probably buy and drink when you're out and about and thirsty.
Nursery water is basically distilled water with fluoride added in. This is used as a selling point, but it should be the exact opposite. Doctors and pediatricians warn against using fluoridated water to mix your baby's formula (that's part of why you're not supposed to use tap water to mix the formula). Too much fluoride causes fluoridosis, a condition of discoloration and malformation of the teeth. Depending on the amount of fluoride ingested, the impact can be mild (cosmetic only) to severe (needing major dental work).
If your child's teeth haven't erupted yet, you don't need to worry about fluoride, since the only, and I repeat ONLY, provable prevention of decay by use of fluoride is a topical application (i.e. brushing your teeth, or applying fluoride paste), NOT by ingestion. It is ingestion that causes fluoridosis, and, if ingestion rates are high enough (very easy to do if you are feeding your baby formula mixed with fluoridated water), brain damage.
Therefore, when deciding on your child's beverages, remember this order of preference...
#1 Breast is Best, everyone agrees. However, not everyone can do this, whether by choice, or physical limitation. Do not feel guilty if you can't breastfeed, just be aware that you will need to make very careful decisions to replace this best option.
#2 Formula mixed with bottled spring water OR reverse osmosis water. The latter is the most cost effective option, since most grocery stores carry it at reasonable prices if you bring your own bottle (think about 50 cents a gallon). DO NOT get distilled water, as it tends to draw the vitamins and minerals out of your bloodstream and flush them out of your system. Definitely not what you want to do for your child. (I will not go into the best or worst formulas here, as it is outside the scope of this article.)
When your baby is starting to drink things other than breast-milk or formula, then consider adding the following beverages to their diet:
#3 Bottled spring water OR reverse osmosis water. See #2 above for a discussion of the different types of water. The reason water is the best first beverage is because it is tasteless and EXTREMELY important for good health. If you get your child used to drinking water now, then he/she will be more amenable to it later. Remember to set a good example, and drink YOUR 6-8 glasses a day, and your child will beg to drink it.
#4 Vegetable juice. Your child's taste buds haven't yet been spoiled with a desire for sweets, and vegetable juice has far more nutrients than fruit juice. For these reasons, you should introduce vegetable juice to your child first. It will help avoid the sweet tooth that develops when parents try to tempt their child to cup and beverage drinking by giving sweets. Trust me, that just sabotages later attempts to teach your child healthy eating habits.
#5 Fruit juice. I add this tentatively as the last item on my list, since it should only be given occasionally, and in small amounts. I would even say, only as a rare treat, like when celebrating (i.e. a birthday, arrival of a new baby, or some other big occasion). Since it is so high in sugar (even though it is 'good' sugar), it can lead to a sweet tooth, and to hyperactivity. Still, it is refreshing to have some apple or grape (citrus shouldn't be introduced until after age 2-3) on occasion.
There are some drinks that preferably would never be introduced to your child's diet. These include:
#1 Soft Drinks. No nutrition, all sugar, caffeine, artificial flavors, colors, additives, you name it that's bad, these have it. NEVER, EVER!
#2 Fruit Drinks. Generally these have little, if any, actual fruit in them. See soft drinks for a list of what's in them.
#3 Coffee, Green, Black, or White Tea. Caffeine, which has a profound effect on the nervous system, should be avoided for children (and Mom and Dad should consider cutting back or out also).
Dairy is another issue all together, one which has waged back and forth for a long time. My personal opinion is: Avoid any store-bought, pasteurized, homogenized dairy products. There is nothing good left in them by this point, having been blasted to micro-molecules that pass through your arteries, and heated to the point where the protein molecules have been misshaped, I see no point in drinking this product. If you have access to raw, unpasteurized dairy, from a source you trust is clean, then I say go for it, tentatively. Wait until your child is at least 1 year old or older. If you or your spouse are lactose-intolerant, I would suggest just skipping the whole dairy aspect all together.
So, in the long haul, water is the best option for a drink, and it should be Bottled spring water or reverse osmosis. Happy health, and drink up.