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How can I safely prepare and handle powdered infant formula?

Powdered formula is not sterile, and it can become contaminated after it is opened. If your baby gets powdered infant formula, follow these steps to protect him/her from infections:

Clean up before preparation

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Clean bottles in a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle, or scrub bottles with a bottle brush in hot, soapy water, rinse well, and then sterilize them.
  • Clean work surfaces, such as countertops and sinks.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and water before beginning to prepare a bottle.

Prepare safely

  • Use hot water (158 degrees F/70 degrees C and above) to make formula. A simple way to heat water to this temperature is to boil a kettle of fresh water and to use it to make formula within 30 minutes of boiling.
  • Measure the right amount of formula and water.
  • Keep powdered formula lids and scoops clean (be careful about what they touch).
  • Close containers of infant formula or bottled water as soon as possible.
  • Carefully shake, rather than stir, formula in the bottle.
  • Cool formula to ensure it is not too hot before feeding your baby by running the prepared, capped bottle under cool water or placing it into an ice bath, taking care to keep the cooling water from getting into the bottle or on the nipple.
  • Before feeding the baby, test the temperature by shaking a few drops on your wrist.

Use up quickly or store safely

  • Use formula within 2 hours of preparation.
  • If the baby does not finish the entire bottle of formula, discard the unused formula.
  • If you do not plan to use the prepared formula right away, refrigerate it immediately and use it within 24 hours. Refrigeration slows bacterial growth and increases safety.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. If you can't remember how long you have kept formula in the refrigerator, it is safer to throw it out than to feed it to your baby.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.