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Bottle Feeding: Preparing Formula

Prepare Bottles with Safety and Accuracy in Mind

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Choosing commercially prepared formula to feed your baby is an important decision. What you feed your baby now provides the foundation for future health and development. Be sure to talk with your baby's doctor about the appropriate infant formula for your baby. Your baby's doctor is the best person to provide recommendations about your baby's nutritional needs. You should never change formula without first checking with your baby's doctor.

Preparing infant formula:
When it comes to preparing infant formula and washing bottles, cleanliness is essential! Your baby's immune system is not fully developed. So your baby is very susceptible to food borne illness caused by bacteria in improperly cleaned equipment. The following are general cleaning guidelines. Be sure to check with your baby's doctor about the need to boil water for your formula and equipment preparation.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water.
  • Wash bottles, nipples, and caps in a dishwasher, or in hot soapy water, using a bottle and nipple brush. Rinse well and drain upside down on a clean towel.
  • Nipples and bottles can be sanitized by placing them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then let them air dry. You can also wash bottles, rings, and caps in the top rack of the dishwasher. Look for special baskets designed for the dishwasher to keep small pieces from falling to the bottom of the dishwasher.
  • Check the expiration date and be sure that the can of formula is not bulged, dented or rusted.
  • Shake and wash off the top of the formula can. Open it with a clean can opener.
  • Tap water (rather than bottled or spring water) is recommended. Use only cold water after letting it run for a minute, then heat it. Hot water or water that has been standing in the pipes might contain unwanted sediment, including minerals. (Talk to your health-care provider about specific water recommendations to limit lead exposure.)
  • If you have well water, contact your health department or water utility to have it tested for safety. Use purchased distilled water for making formula until you know your water is safe for your baby. Distilled water is purer than spring or mineral water. It has no fluoride, so your baby may need fluoride drops. Check with your baby's doctor.
  • Pay careful attention to the mixing instructions on the infant formula label. Adding too much water during preparation dilutes the formula, meaning that your baby may not get an adequate supply of nutrients and energy. Adding too little water makes the formula concentrated. This can be difficult for your baby to digest and may cause dehydration.
  • For accurate measurements, use a standard measuring cup rather than the markings on the side of a bottle.
  • Properly storing your formula cans, both unopened and opened, is important for ensuring your baby's safety.
    • Unopened cans should be stored in an area away from extreme heat or cold. Do not freeze formula in a can or prepared formula in the bottle.
    • Opened cans of ready-to-feed and concentrated liquid formula should be tightly covered and stored in the refrigerator. Use within 48 hours.
    • Opened powder cans should be covered with the plastic lid and stored in a cool, dry place. Do not leave the lid off the can. Do not store the can of powder in the refrigerator. Use the powder within 2-3 months.
  • For convenience, prepare a supply of bottles ahead. Mix the amount your baby will eat within 24-48 hours. Date and store the prepared infant formula in the refrigerator.
  • Store prepared bottles of formula in the refrigerator. Use within 48 hours of preparation.
  • Formula left in a baby bottle after a feeding should never be saved for another feeding. Bacteria from your baby's mouth can contaminate and cause formula to spoil.
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
Becky Hand

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