What you need to know about preparing formula safely for babies

baby formula with bottle

Using formula is pretty straightforward as long as it’s done safely. As powdered milk is not considered sterile, care needs to be taken to ensure that bacteria risks are kept to a minimum, because your baby’s immune system is not strong enough to fight off infection. This means making sure everything is super clean and germ free and you follow formula preparation guidelines to a tee. While it might seem cumbersome at first to stick to all these rules, it’s worth remembering they’re in place for good reason: to keep your baby safe and healthy, and to make sure he grows well. Once you get used to all the safety measures, you’ll find they become automatic and easy to get through.

Here is how to ensure your baby’s formula is prepared safely:

Sterilise all bottle feeding equipment

Your baby’s immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off infections, so it’s important to sterilise everything they use for drinking until they’re 12 months old. After every bottle feed, disassemble all parts of the bottle and thoroughly wash in soapy water, using a bottle brush to ensure no dried milk is left inside the teats and bottles. These should then be sterilised before the next bottle of formula is prepared. An easy way to do this is to boil the bottle parts for 5 minutes in a saucepan, but you can also use microwave or chemical sterilising. Once the items have been sterilised, store them in a sealed container until you need them.

Wash your hands

Before you prepare a bottle of formula, wash your hands thoroughly and ensure that the surface you’re working on is also clean and dry.

Use sterile water

You need to use sterile water to make up formula. Boil fresh tap water and allow to cool for half an hour or until the water is lukewarm and won’t scald you. You can also use bottled water as long as it is unopened.

Use the scoop from the tin

Always use the scoop provided in the tin to measure the formula, as different formula brands may use different sized scoops. Make sure you keep the scoop in the tin and don’t wash it, as if it’s not dried adequately, it can transfer moisture into the tin.

Follow the tin instructions

Check the instructions on the tin to make sure you use the right amount of formula for each feed. You can level out each scoop using a sterilised knife or the levelling device that comes with the tin. Using incorrect amounts of formula powder could be harmful to your baby’s health.

Warming formula

To warm up prepared formula, place the sealed bottle in a jug of warm water for about 10 minutes. Check the temperature of the formula by putting a few drops on the inside of your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm. Too cool is better than too hot. If your baby doesn’t mind drinking cold formula, you don’t need to worry about warming it.

Use within the hour

Prepared formula needs to be used within the hour, but can be stored in the fridge before this, as long as it is used up within 24 hours. Store it in the back of the fridge, where it’s most cold.

Preparation in advance

Ideally, formula should be prepared and used right before you need to feed your baby, but if you need to make up bottles in advance, you can store these in the fridge for 24 hours. Take care when you’re transporting them between fridges by keeping them in a cold bag and ensuring they’re returned to a fridge as soon as possible. If prepared formula is left outside of the fridge too long, it can breed bacteria that could harm your baby.

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