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How to Safely Prepare and Store Baby Formula Like a Pro

by Vannessa Rhoades 05 Aug 2023

When it comes to how to prepare baby formula, the process is relatively straightforward. The main step involves mixing the formula powder with water. Nevertheless, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, such as the use of boiled water and following the specific manufacturer’s recommended steps. To prepare baby formula safely, it’s essential to mix it accurately using clean, safe drinking water. It’s also important to carefully follow the specific guidelines and preparation methods recommended for your particular formula brand. Make sure you share the exact instructions for your baby’s formula preparation with anyone involved in caring for your baby, such as daycare providers, grandparents, babysitters, friends, or family. Remember, specific recommendations may vary depending on where you live, access to safe drinking water, and the type of formula you are using. Below, we’ve outlined a general guide on how to prepare formula for baby.

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How to Prepare Infant Formula

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided guidelines to ensure the safe preparation, storage, and handling of powdered infant formula. Following these guidelines is essential for the well-being of your baby. Here are the recommended steps for preparing formula:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing bottles or feeding your baby. Ensure that the workspace where you'll be preparing the formula is also clean and sanitized.
  2. Use clean and sanitized bottles. For more information on how to properly clean your baby's bottles and feeding supplies, you can refer to the CDC's guidelines on cleaning, sanitizing, and storing infant feeding items.
  3. While it's not necessary to warm the baby's milk or formula before feeding, some prefer to do so. Never use a microwave to do this as it can create uneven heating, leading to "hot spots" that may burn your baby's mouth and throat. If you choose to warm the bottle, place it under running warm water, making sure to prevent water from entering the bottle or nipple. To test the temperature, put a few drops of formula on the back of your hand.
How to Safely Prepare and Store Baby Formula Like a Pro

Special Tips for Powdered Baby Formula

  • Use water from a safe source to mix the formula. Reach out to your local health department for guidance if you’re unsure about your tap water quality.
  • Follow the instructions on the formula container regarding the amount of water to add. Always measure the water first, then add the powder.
    • Diluting the formula with too much water may not meet your baby's nutritional needs.
    • Concentrating the formula by using too little water can strain your baby's kidneys and digestive system, potentially leading to dehydration.
  • If your infant is younger than 2 months old, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system, be sure to take extra steps to protect them against Cronobacter, a rare but serious infection that can be caused by germs in powdered infant formula. Cronobacter infections in infants are uncommon but can be severe. To ensure the elimination of germs like Cronobacter in powdered infant formula, mix the formula with very hot water. Boil the water and allow it to cool for approximately 5 minutes before combining it with the powdered infant formula. Keep in mind that the formula will be too hot to feed your baby immediately after mixing, so it’s crucial to wait for it to cool to a suitable temperature to avoid burning your baby's mouth.

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Storage: How Long to Keep Prepared Baby Formula

 It's important to use prepared infant formula promptly or store it safely to prevent spoilage. Try to use the prepared formula within 2 hours of preparation or within 1 hour from the start of feeding. If the prepared formula is not used within 2 hours, refrigerate the bottle immediately and use it within 24 hours. Discard any remaining formula in the bottle after feeding your baby. Formula mixed with your baby’s saliva can promote bacterial growth. Clean and sanitize the bottle before the next use.

Store unopened containers of infant formula in a cool, dry, climate-controlled indoor location. Avoid storing them in vehicles, garages, or outdoors. Once opened, store infant formula in a cool, dry place with the lid tightly closed. Refrigeration is not necessary or recommended.

In general, try to use up your formula within a month after opening the container (double-check the label). A handy trick is to use a marker to write the date on the lid after opening it. Never let your baby consume formula older than the "Use By" date indicated on the container.

How to Safely Prepare and Store Baby Formula Like a Pro

How Much Infant Formula to Prepare for Baby

The amount and schedule of a baby’s formula feedings will change as they grow. In the initial week after birth, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that formula-fed newborns consume around 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 ml) per feed. As the first month progresses, babies gradually increase their intake and typically consume 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 ml) per feed, totaling approximately 32 ounces per day. Formula-fed babies often follow a regular feeding schedule, such as every 3 or 4 hours. Breastfed babies tend to have smaller, more frequent feedings compared to formula-fed infants. By the end of the first month, your formula-fed baby should be consuming at least 3 to 4 ounces (120 mL) per feeding, following a predictable feeding schedule of approximately every 3 to 4 hours. When your baby reaches 6 months of age, their intake will increase to 6 to 8 ounces (180–240 mL) per feeding, with a total of 4 or 5 feedings within a 24-hour period.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. Please contact your health provider if you have any medical questions or concerns about your child or yourself.

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