Once opened, store the powdered formula in a cool, dark place. Once mixed, room temperature formula will last for 2 hours without refrigeration or for 24 hours in the fridge. However, once your baby begins to eat, the bottle is only good for 1 hour.
Out the door and on the go? Is breastfeeding proving to be difficult? Baby formula can often be the best solution to save parents time and hassle.
Yet baby formula is not without its obstacles. Whether you use it regularly or sparingly, baby formula cannot be bought, used, and stored for the long term.
Selecting the best baby formula is a tricky business for the savvy shopper and largely depends on your daily routine and your baby’s needs.
From 12 oz cans, 20 oz tubs, single-serve sticks, to refill boxes—the types and quantities of formula run the gambit.
Buying the best combination depends on both you and your baby. An important thing to consider is how long a can of formula will last.
Different Types of Formula
The primary types of formula are powdered and pre-made liquid bottles. Powdered formula is the most economical and will last longer.
Pre-made is the easiest to use on the spot. Each can be bought in different quantities online or at retail stores like Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Costco.
Though buyer beware, make sure to purchase the right amount. Formula expires quickly.
How Long Does Formula Last?
Baby formula is especially prone to expire due to the nutritious ingredients inside. Infants are at higher risk of food-borne illness from bacteria living on food not properly prepared or stored.
Unmixed Powder in a Sealed Can
Powdered Formula closed and sealed from the store typically has an expiration of 1 year from the purchase date.
Although, be sure to check the packaging for your Brand’s exact date. You can generally find this date on the lid or the bottom of the container.
Opened Container of Mixed Formula
Once a container’s seal breaks, the baby formula will expire in 30 days.
If your baby is not a heavy eater and you decide to purchase one of the larger containers, there may be a higher risk of throwing money into the garbage after 30 days.
Unused Room-Temperature Mixed Formula
After preparing a bottle for your little one, the unused bottle (your baby hasn’t fed yet) may be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
It’s best to avoid using the prepared formula if you haven’t touched it by the time the two hours are up. Unfortunately, it must be tossed out.
Unused Refrigerated Mixed Formula
You may pre-mix formula up to 24 hours beforehand as long as it is stored in the refrigerator. Preparing baby formula in batches can be a great way to help out your babysitter!
How convenient is it to have breakfast ready as you and your little one start your day? Be sure to place the prepared formula in a closed container before putting it straight into the refrigerator.
How to Mix
Pre-mixing bottles is a pretty straightforward task. Simply mix the amount described on the package with room temperature water, and voila! Finished.
If your tap water has been deemed safe by your local authorities, go ahead and use it.
You may also use bottled or filtered water. Consider filtering your water by boiling for 3 to 5 minutes and allowing it to cool for 30 minutes to save on cost.
Sometimes, infants may prefer a slightly warmed bottle during feedings or right before bed. Once mixed and gently heated, the bottle will last for 1 hour.
Remember to heat the bottle gently in a pot of warm water or use a bottle heater. Never heat the formula directly.
What About Leftovers?
There will be times when your baby does not finish their bottle. It can be tempting to throw the formula into the fridge to use for later.
BUT, once mixed and in contact with your little one’s lips, the formula can only be used for a maximum of 1 hour.
Once your baby finishes eating, you will likely need to throw the leftovers away.
However, this is not to be confused with pre-mixing formula and placing it in the fridge for later use.
How Long Will Each Container Last?
The second to last question to ask when selecting the amount of formula to purchase is how long the container will last.
The main determinants of this include the number of times your infant eats and how many fluid ounces they consume.
Generally, baby formula is made by mixing one scoop of powder for every 2 oz of water.
|Number of 4 Ounce Bottles
|Time It Will Last a 3 Month-Old
|Time It Will Last a 6 Month-Old
|Time It Will Last a 9 Month-Old
|12 oz. Can
|24 oz. Tub
|34 oz. Tub
You may use the chart above as a rough estimate, though feeding habits change with age. This will directly affect the amount of formula your little one needs as well.
Newborns eat considerably less than a 6-month-old, so remember to purchase smaller containers when figuring out which Brand your infant prefers.
How to Store
Powder formula will typically expire close to one year after purchasing if it remains sealed and unopened. Once opened, the powdered formula can only be stored for 30 days.
Once it expires, it should be thrown away. Make sure to keep the formula in a cool, dry, and dark place.
If you notice any moisture or the powder seems excessively warm, it’s best to toss.
First Time Using a New Bottle
The first time you use a new bottle, be sure to submerge the bottle in a pot and simmer the water for five minutes.
Sterilizing the bottle kills any bacteria that might be around, making it clean and ready for use. You may also use soap and hot water or the dishwasher to clean your bottles after that.
Most manufacturers provide the same powder formula in a convenient ready-to-drink plastic bottle. Like the powder, you may store the unopened sealed bottles for up to a year.
Similarly, your infant must consume the formula within 1 hour of opening. Parents can pour the formula into their baby’s favorite bottle and store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Just be sure to close the bottle again!
On the Go
When running errands or taking a quick road trip, pre-made formulas are a super convenient option! Who doesn’t love minimal mess or hassle? Just carry the unopened and sealed bottle with you until needed.
Once you get a feel for how often your baby feeds, purchase larger bulk quantities to save on cost.
Which Brand is the Best
The American Academy of Pediatrics says almost all formulas are created equal. Experts recommend that your baby formula should include iron and have approval by the FDA.
Popular brands like Enfamil, Gerber, Similac, Earth’s Best Organic, and Kirkland Signature each tout different ingredients proven to make your baby healthier and smarter.
Each Brand also contains the recommended amount of iron. Doctors also agree that making your own formula at home is a huge No-Go.
Baby formula is specially formulated to contain many ingredients found in breastmilk.
Sometimes, our little ones can have allergies or sensitivities to some of the formula’s ingredients.
Lactose intolerance is one of the most common intolerances. The American Family Physician recommends consulting your doctor before switching to a lactose-free or hypoallergenic formula.
Some studies have shown anti-reflux formulas may be useful in treating colic in infants who don’t respond well to changes made in their formula.
It’s always best to speak to your pediatrician before buying the reflux kind.
Why Use Formula
The Mayo Clinic and experts all agree that breastmilk is the best way to feed your little one. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby will need to flourish and grow.
If you are unable to or hesitant to breastfeed yourself, baby formula is the next best thing! Baby formula can be easier for some parents to use in a pinch.
Whether preparing bottles for the following day or giving the babysitter seven pre-made meals, baby formula can be much quicker and easier than pumping.
What Age Can I Use Formula?
Baby formula can be used from birth to 6 months exclusively if you like.
At six months, parents may begin to introduce solid foods while continuing formula use until at least one year.