Diluting Baby Formula to Save Money: Don't Do It

don't dilute formula with waterThe economy is really bad and formula is really expensive. But as tempting as it might be, dietitians and health care professionals give this warning loud and clear: Do not water down baby formula to make it stretch. Doing so could cause serious illness and even death in babies.


A 23-year-old Florida mother diluted her 5-month-old baby's formula with water and he almost died. When she realized he wasn't breathing she performed CPR and he was rushed to the hospital. He was diagnosed with water intoxication and put on a ventilator. He did recover, but how scary is that?

What happens when you add too much water to formula? According to Lillian Beard, a Maryland pediatrician, who is also medical adviser and consultant to the International Formula Council, "The water will occupy the space in the stomach that the milk or infant formula should be occupying. When there is too much water, it can cause a dilution of the body chemistry and electrolytes. The brain actually needs everything in really perfect balance. Too much water can cause seizures that can result in death.”

Baby formula manufacturers provide a careful balance of vitamins and nutrients for infants when the formula is mixed with the correct amount of water. And you want to make sure your baby is getting everything he needs.

If you find yourself in an economic pinch:

1. Ask your pediatrician about the possibility of getting free samples of infant formula to tide you over.

2. Call the formula manufacturer. Dial the 800-number on the back of the can to ask about getting help. Maybe they'll send samples or coupons.

3. Choose less-expensive store brands over popular name-brand formulas. They're all FDA-approved and include the same ingredients.

What are you doing to stretch your dollars these days?

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