There are three basic kinds of infant formula: ready-made, powdered, and concentrate. Ready-made formula is both the most expensive and the easiest; simply pour it into a baby bottle. But the two more economical varieties require a simple preparation before feeding your baby.
Here are some basic steps for formula preparation, but double check the instructions on your particular formula brand before preparing a new formula for the first time.
- Check the expiration date and make sure the can or container is intact. Do not feed your baby formula that is expired or comes from a dented, bulging, or torn can or container. This could mean formula contamination.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Also wash the lids of new formula containers and cans to remove any environmental contaminants.
- Clean and/or sterilize the bottle and nipple. First-time bottles and nipples should be sterilized before use by submersing them in boiling water for at least five minutes. Let the pieces cool and completely air dry before using them. Once you’ve sterilized a bottle the first time, you can hand-wash with warm, soapy water or run through the dishwasher.
- Mix the water and formula. Some parents worry they have to use distilled or sterilized water to mix baby formula. This is rarely necessary, since bottled or tap water is fine. If you live in an area where you’re concerned about water quality, or if you use well water that relies on an uncertain ground source, have your water tested for quality. In most areas of the United States, the tap water is monitored and very safe. To mix the formula, measure the correct amount of formula into the bottle and add cold or cool water. After you’ve added the liquid or concentrate, mix well by shaking the bottle. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper ratio — do not dilute or strengthen the formula mixture because it may cause an upset stomach, electrolyte problems, or dehydration. If you have any questions about your baby’s tolerance for formula or you’re concerned about formula allergies, ask your pediatrician.
- Warm the bottle only if your baby prefers it. Some babies prefer warm formula, but there is no health benefit to it. If you do warm the bottle, never use a microwave because this can produce “hot spots” in the liquid that can be potentially scalding. Instead, submerge the bottle in a container of warm water for a few minutes or run it under warm water. Always test the formula on your inner wrist or elbow before giving it to your baby to make sure it’s not too hot.
- After feeding your baby, discard any formula left in the bottle. Do not save and attempt to reuse formula as this is potential health hazard. Store the un-mixed formula according to label directions.
- Formula is available in three varieties: ready-made, powdered and concentrate.
- Thoroughly wash your hands and the formula container, bottle and nipple before each use.
- It’s fine to add tap water (rather than distilled or sterilized water) to formula.
- Do not warm a bottle in the microwave.