Formula Feeding Basics

Making formula for your baby seems easy, right? Mix a little powder with some water, shake and pop the bottle into the baby’s mouth. But, there’s more to the story than that! What if your baby only wants warm bottles? How should you heat up the formula? And, what if the baby doesn’t drink the whole bottle? What do you do with the leftover formula? Read on for how to properly and safely make, heat and store your baby’s formula.

Formula Basics How To Properly Make, Heat And Store It

Formula Feeding Basics

1. Types of Formula

There are three types of baby formula: powder formula, concentrated formula and ready-to-feed formula.

Powder formula is sold in cans of varying sizes and require to you mix a scoop of the powder with water. Usually it’s one scoop of powder for every 2 ounces of water. (Be sure to read the instructions on the back of the formula though, to be sure.) One of the major benefits is that powder formula travels well. You can store it in a formula cup and mix it with water when you’re ready to feed your baby. The powder doesn’t need to be refrigerated. (If you premix the powder and water and take it with you already mixed, then you do need to keep it cold–typically below 40 degrees.) And, powder formula is the most economical of all formula types.

Concentrated formula is sold in cans and must be mixed with water. Typically the can is mixed with an equal amount of water. (As with powder formula, read the label to be sure you’re preparing it correctly.)

Ready to feed formula is premixed liquid formula and is sold in large containers. Once you’ve opened the container, you must refrigerate the entire thing. Ready to feed is the most convenient of all three formula options: there’s no mixing involved. Just pour the formula into the bottle and feed baby. It’s also the most expensive.


2.Making Formula

Formula Feeding Basics 1 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families

If you’re using powder or concentrated formula, there are several guidelines to follow to make sure you’re keeping your baby safe.

  • First, wash your hands. Formula is not sterile and dirty hands can contaminate the batch.
  • Be sure to use safe water. Many formula cans suggest using filtered, distilled or bottled water. You can certainly use tap water as well, as long as you’re knowledgeable about your tap water and what’s in it.
  • When mixing, swirl formula and water together; don’t shake it. Shaking formula creates air bubbles and if they’re swallowed, they’ll create more gas, which can be very uncomfortable for the baby.
  • When using powder formula, always use the scoop that came with the can formula. Don’t use old scoops, even if they’re scoops from the same brand.
  • Measure your scoops carefully. Bottles that have too much water or too much powder can cause stomach problems and discomfort for your baby.
  • How much formula should you make at one time? It’s really all about preference. Some parents prefer to make one big batch of formula a day, storing it in a formula pitcher and dispensing it into the bottles when they’re ready to feed the baby. Others prefer to make each bottle separately, when baby is ready to eat.
Curious about the safety of your tap water? Check out Is Your Water Toxic? to help you determine if your water is safe enough.

3. Storing Formula

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Once you’ve made your baby’s formula, it’s important to follow safe handling guidelines so the baby doesn’t ingest bacteria, creating potential for sickness.

  • Once you’ve mixed powder formula, you can safely store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Ready to feed formula can be stored in the fridge for 48 hours.
  • Once you’ve started feeding a baby any kind of formula, the formula can only sit at room temperature for 1 hour before you must discard it. After that, the potential for bacterial contamination is too high to risk feeding it to your baby.

4. Warming bottles

You’ve made a big batch of formula, safely stored it in the fridge and now it’s time to feed the baby. Is it harmful to give a baby cold formula? If you want to heat it, how should you heat it?

There is no medical research that suggests cold formula is bad for your baby. Many people prefer to heat formula though. If you’re breastfeeding, heating a bottle might make it seem more like breastmilk and could help ease the transition between formula and breastmilk.

If you do decide to heat your baby’s formula, there are a few different ways of doing it.

  • The quickest and probably most convenient way to heat formula is to invest in a bottle warmer. Put the full bottle in the warmer and with the push of a button, the bottle is heated to just the right temperature, in just a few minutes.
  • Another easy way of heating formula is to fill a mug with hot water and set the full bottle in the water for a few minutes. Don’t let it sit for longer than 15 minutes though, or bacteria can’t grow.
Product Recommendation: iiamo go Self Heating Bottle

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Moms on the go need the iiamo go bottle. This self-heating bottle quickly warms bottles to 98.6 degrees without electricity!

So how does it work? The iiamo go has a special heating chamber on the bottom. Once you’ve put formula in the bottle, open the heating chamber and insert the heating cartridge.  Shake the bottle a few times to activate the heating function. Four minutes later the bottle will be perfectly warm and you can begin to feed the baby. The heating cartridges are disposable and contain only salt and water, not harsh chemicals.


iiamo go bottle


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  • Don’t use microwave or the stovetop to heat a bottle! It can uneven heating thus scalding a baby when he or she begins to suck.
For more information on formula feeding, check out Essential Items for Formula Feeding Moms and Choosing the Best Formula for your Infant


Photo Credit:
The Quinntessential Mommy



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Krista lives in New York with her husband and their 3 year old daughter. In October, they welcomed a second baby, a boy! She teaches English at a local college and loves to read, shop, and cook. She enjoys blogging about motherhood at The Quinntessential Mommy. You can contact her via email, twitter or visit her blog.


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