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Infant Formula Preparation and Storage

A mother scooping infant formula out from the container. Always carefully read and follow the instructions on the infant formula container. A mother scooping infant formula out from the container. Always carefully read and follow the instructions on the infant formula container.

Carefully read and follow the instructions on the infant formula container. These steps will help you know how to prepare and store your infant’s formula correctly. Preparing your infant’s formula according to the instructions is important.

Here are additional pointers to keep in mind when preparing and storing your infant’s formula.

Preparation

  • Wash your hands well before preparing bottles or feeding your baby. Clean and sanitize the workspace where you will be preparing the infant formula.
  • Bottles need to be clean and sanitized. To learn more about how to properly clean your baby’s bottles and other feeding supplies, visit the CDC webpage How to Clean, Sanitize, and Store Infant Feeding Items.
  • Baby’s milk or infant formula does not need to be warmed before feeding, but some people like to warm their baby’s bottle. If you do decide to warm the bottle, never use a microwave. Microwaves heat milk and food unevenly, resulting in “hot spots” that can burn your baby’s mouth and throat.
    • To warm a bottle: Place the bottle under running warm water, taking care to keep the water from getting into the bottle or on the nipple.  Put a couple drops of infant formula on the back of your hand to see if it is too hot.
  • If you use powdered infant formula:
    • Use water from a safe source to mix your infant formula. If you are not sure if your tap water is safe to use for preparing infant formula, contact your local health department.
    • Use the amount of water listed on the instructions of the infant formula container. Always measure the water first and then add the powder.
      • Too much water may not meet the nutritional needs of your baby.
      • Too little water may cause your baby’s kidneys and digestive system to work too hard and may cause your baby to become dehydrated.
    • If your baby is very young (younger than 3 months old), was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system, you may want to take extra precautions in preparing your infant’s formula to protect against Cronobacter (see box).

Did You Know?

Cronobacter can be caused by germs in infant formula.

Cronobacter is a rare but serious infection that can be caused by germs in powdered infant formula. In most cases, it is safe to mix powdered infant formula following manufacturer’s instructions. But if your baby is very young (younger than 3 months old), was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system, you may want to take extra precautions to protect against Cronobacter. Learn more about how to safely prepare your infant’s formula to prevent Cronobacter.

Use Quickly or Store Safely

  • Store unopened infant formula containers in a cool, dry, indoor place—not in vehicles, garages, or outdoors.
  • Prepared infant formula can spoil if it is left out at room temperature.
    • Use prepared infant formula within 2 hours of preparation and within one hour from when feeding begins.
    •  If you do not start to use the prepared infant formula within 2 hours, immediately store the bottle in the fridge and use it within 24 hours.
  • Throw out any infant formula that is left in the bottle after feeding your baby. The combination of infant formula and your baby’s saliva can cause bacteria to grow. Be sure to clean and sanitize the bottle before its next use.
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