Here are some helpful tips on preparing a bottle of formula. Whilst a relatively simple process, mixing a bottle at 4am, in the dark, on zero sleep can be overwhelming.
Powdered Formula is not a sterile product therefore preparing and storing your formula correctly helps reduce the risk of infection and illness.
The super important bits:
- Check expiry date on formula tin and familiarise yourself with the feeding table and directions
- Wash hands thoroughly before preparing a bottle
- Ensure all feeding equipment is sterilised prior to use
- Use cooled boiled drinking water
Sterilising utensils, bottles and teats ensures all equipment used to feed your baby has been thoroughly cleaned to remove harmful bacteria which can make your baby very ill. Ensure all feeding equipment is sterilised within 24 hours of use and it is recommended that you continue to sterilise until your baby is 12 months of age.
Step 1: Wash your hands with soap and warm water
Step 2: Wash all feeding and preparation equipment in hot soapy water and use a clean bottle brush to clean the inside and outside of your bottles and teats. Rinse all feeding equipment in clean water.
Step 3: Fill are a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
Step 4: Place all cleaned feeding and preparation equipment into the boiling water. Ensure there is enough water to cover all equipment and eliminate any air bubbles from inside the bottles by submerging them in the water.
Step 5: Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow equipment to sterilize in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.
Step 6: Remove sterilised feeding equipment from boiling water and allow to dry. Then store in an airtight clean container until ready for use.
If you have a commercial sterilizer follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use. This is also a very effective way of sterilizing feeding equipment and a simpler and safer method when children are present.
Preparing Water for use with formula
Step 1: Boil safe drinking water in a kettle or on a stovetop.
Step 2: Allow boiled water to cool until its lukewarm or room temperature. This will take at least 30 minutes for the boiled water to cool. Always check the temperature of water before preparing a bottle of formula.
Step 3: Water can be stored in sealed bottles in the fridge until they are ready for use. Unused water must be discarded after 24 hours.
Preparing a bottle
Ensure you familiarise yourself with the instructions and feeding table on your formula tin. Check the expiry date and discard any tins of formula that have been opened for more than 1 month. Prepare only 1 bottle at a time and immediately prior to feeding.
Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water
Step 2: Pour required quantity of lukewarm or cooled boiled water into the sterilised bottle. The quantity of water required to make a bottle will be advised on your formula tin.
Step 3: Using only the scoop provided add the required amount of formula to the water. Level off the formula powder using the built-in leveller in your tin or by using a sterilised knife. Adding more or less of the instructed formula quantity can make your baby ill. Store the scoop inside the formula tin. Washing it after each use can introduce moisture if not dried properly.
Step 4: Seal the bottle and shake until formula powder has completely dissolved in the water.
Step 5: Test the temperature of the made-up formula by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist.
Some babies are happy to drink formula using cooled water, others prefer it slightly warmed or lukewarm. To warm a prepared bottle, include the following step.
Step 6: Place formula on a bench top in a jug of warm water. Ensure jug is far from reach of young children to avoid accidents. Check temperature of formula often on the inside of your wrist until lukewarm.
Bottle warmers are also an easy way to warm formula. Follow manufacturers instructions for use.
It is not recommended you microwave formula as this may heat unevenly and formula can burn your baby.
If formula is heated too hot, place it in a jug of cold water or under cold running water until the right temperature is achieved. Swirl the bottle to ensure temperature is consistent through the bottle and check on the inside of your wrist before giving it to your baby.
Note: A feed should take no longer than 1 hour. After a feed, discard any unused formula as this cannot be kept for a future feed.
National Health and Medical Research Council. Infant Feeding Guidelines for Health Workers. Canberra: NHMRC, 2012
Raising Children Network (Australia) Limited. Infant Formula: making, storing and transporting it. Australia: 2021. Available from: https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/breastfeeding-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/formula-making-storing-transporting
FAO/WHO. Safe preparation, storage and handling of powdered infant formula: guidelines. 2021. Available from: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/powdered-infant-formula/en