Infant formula: 7 steps to prepare it safely
Infant formula: 7 steps to prepare it safely
You've chosen your baby's infant formula with care — but are you preparing it properly? Follow these steps to ensure proper nutrition and avoid food-related illness.
1. Check the expiration date and condition of the container
Look for an expiration or "use by" date on the formula container. If the expiration date has passed, you can't be sure of the formula's quality. Don't buy or use outdated infant formula.
While checking the expiration date, also inspect the condition of the formula container. Don't buy or use formula from containers with bulges, dents, leaks or rust spots. Formula in a damaged container might be unsafe.
2. Wash your hands
Before preparing formula, wash your hands thoroughly. Wet your hands with warm running water, then rub soap on your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Wash all hand surfaces, including under your fingernails and in the spaces between your fingers.
3. Prepare your bottle
Sterilize bottles, nipples, caps and rings before using them for the first time:
After the first use, there's no need to sterilize your bottle and accessories. Simply wash these items with soap and water and allow them to air-dry. Bottle and nipple brushes can help you clean nooks and crannies. You can also use the dishwasher. If you do so, consider getting a dishwasher-safe basket to hold your utensils.
Also, during the cleaning process, make sure the nipples are open. Hold each nipple upside down and fill it with clean water, then look for the water to drip slowly out of the nipple.
Remember to clean formula containers, too. Before opening a new container, wash the top with soap and water, then rinse well.
If you plan to prepare formula in the bottle, confirm the measuring marks on each bottle. Simply use a liquid measuring cup and water to make sure the measurements on the bottle are accurate.
4. Add water to liquid-concentrate or powdered formula
If you're using liquid-concentrate or powdered formula, you'll need to add water to the bottle. Check to see if the manufacturer's instructions specify whether to add water or formula to the bottle first. Typically, you'll add water to the clean bottle first to ensure you're using the proper amount.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for how much water to use. Adding too little water can put a burden on your baby's digestive system, and adding too much water might overly dilute the formula and deprive your baby of calories and nutrients.
You can use any type of clean water — tap or bottled — to prepare liquid-concentrate or powdered formula. If you'd like to use tap water but you're concerned about the safety of your water supply or you use private well water, consider sterilizing the water before adding it to the bottle:
You might also have well water checked for lead, nitrates and bacteria.
It's also important to consider the amount of fluoride in the water you use to prepare your baby's liquid-concentrate or powdered formula. Exposure to fluoride during infancy helps prevent tooth decay during infancy. However, regularly mixing a baby's formula with fluoridated water might increase your child's risk of developing faint white markings or streaks on the teeth — a sign of mild enamel fluorosis.
If you're concerned about fluorosis, consider ways to minimize your baby's exposure to fluoride. For example, you might use ready-to-feed formula or alternate between tap water and low-fluoride bottled water — such as purified, demineralized, deionized or distilled bottled water — for formula preparation. However, if you feed your baby only ready-to-feed formula or concentrated formula mixed with low-fluoride water, your baby's doctor might recommend fluoride supplements beginning at 6 months.
5. Measure the formula
For ready-to-use formula:
For liquid-concentrate formula:
For powdered formula:
6. Warm the formula, if needed
It's fine to give your baby room temperature or even cold formula. If your baby prefers warm formula:
Don't warm bottles in the microwave. The formula might heat unevenly, creating hot spots that could burn your baby's mouth.
Shake the bottle well and feed the formula to your baby immediately. Discard any formula that remains in the bottle after a feeding.
7. Store formula safely
Store unopened formula containers in a cool, dry place. Don't store formula containers outdoors or in a car or garage, where temperature extremes can affect the quality of the formula.
If you're using ready-to-use formula, cover and refrigerate any leftover formula from a freshly opened container. Discard any leftover formula that's been in the refrigerator more than 48 hours.
If you prepare and fill several bottles of liquid-concentrate or powdered formula at once:
If you're unsure whether a particular container or bottle of formula is safe, throw it out.
Last Updated: 2013-01-19
© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Terms and conditions of use