The major health organizations - including the American Academy
of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), the
American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the World Health
Organization (WHO) - agree that
is the ideal form of nutrition for babies (especially during the
first 6 months). However, only you can decide what's best
for you and your baby. And commercially prepared formulas are
designed and strictly regulated to provide the nutrients your baby
Whether you've decided to formula feed your baby from the
start, are supplementing your breast milk with formula, or are
switching from breast milk to formula, you're bound to have
questions. Here are answers to some common questions about formula
Do I need to sterilize my baby's bottles?
Yes. Before the first use, you'll need to sterilize
nipples and bottles in a rolling boil for 5 minutes. You can also
sterilize them with a store-bought countertop or microwaveable
sterilizer, but boiling works just as well and costs nothing. After
that, you'll need to wash bottles and nipples in hot, soapy
water (or run them through the dishwasher) after every use. They
can transmit bacteria if not cleaned properly.
How do I prepare my baby's bottles?
How you actually prepare the bottles depends on the type of
formula you buy. Follow the instructions on the label
, using the precise amounts of water and formula specified. Both
using too much water or too much formula can cause problems for
For babies up to 6 months of age, it's recommended that you
boil the water that you add to concentrated or powdered
formula. Though municipal water is typically fine, there is the
possibility that the water supply can become contaminated. The U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says you should bring water to a
very bubbly boil, keep it boiling for 1 to 2 minutes, then let it
cool. (When using tap water, run it on cold for 2 minutes to help
flush out any lead or other impurities.)
There's also bottled water available for infant use. Some of
these products have added fluoride, so check with your doctor
before using them. And unless the bottle's label indicates that
it's sterile, you'll need to boil it as well.
How do I warm my baby's bottles?
Some babies may actually prefer cold or room-temperature bottles
to warm, especially if you start serving them that way from the
get-go (which can make things easier for you in the long run). But
if your baby does prefer a warm bottle, remember that the microwave
can create dangerous "hot spots" in bottles, so you
Instead, you can:
- Run the bottle under very warm or hot water for a few
- Put your baby's bottles in a pan of hot water. Just be
sure to remove the pan from the heat source before placing the
bottle in it.
- Use bottle warmers that either sit on your countertop at home
or plug into your car's lighter.
Whichever way you choose to heat your baby's bottles, be
sure to shake the bottle vigorously. Then test the temperature of
the formula by squirting a drop or two on the inside or your wrist
before feeding your baby. It should be lukewarm (barely warm) not
How long can mixed formula keep in the fridge?
You should always refrigerate any bottles you fill for later
feedings to prevent bacteria from growing, as well as any open
containers of ready-to-feed or concentrate formula. Throw away any
mixed formula after 24 hours and any open ready-to-feed or
concentrate formula after 48 hours.
How long can a bottle keep at room temperature?
Discard any prepared or ready-to-feed formula that's been
sitting out after 1 hour.
If formula is left over, can I offer it again?
No, throw away any leftover formula. There's a chance
bacteria may have formed since the last feeding, which could
make your baby sick.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: March 2009
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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