Leftover Formula – Is It Safe To Drink After Being Left Out?

Leftover Formula - Is It Safe To Drink After Being Left Out?

If  you use formula to feed your baby, there are several questions you might be asking – such as:

How do I make up the formula?
How much formula should I give my baby, and how often? and
Which formula should I use?

When you’ve made up the formula and your baby has been fed, you might be wondering what to do if he doesn’t want to drink it all right away?

Some parents aren’t sure whether or not it’s safe to feed left-over formula to their baby later on, when the baby is hungry again.

Is this safe to do or not?

This article will help answer this question, and provide you with important information to help keep your baby safe.

You Only Have A Short Period Of Time To Give Your Baby Leftover Formula

According to Australia’s leading health organisation, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), “A feed should take no longer than one hour – any formula that has been at room temperature for longer than one hour should be discarded”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has formula-feeding guidelines. They indicate that you should “Throw away any left-over feed after two hours”.

Similarly, UK guidelines for formula-feeding indicate: “Infant formula that has not been used and has been kept at room temperature must be thrown away within two hours”.

Harmful Bacteria Can Multiply Quickly In Made-Up Formula

Harmful bacteria can multiply quickly in made-up formula.

Even if the formula is kept in the fridge, bacteria can still live – and also multiply, although more slowly.

The longer the formula is stored, especially outside the fridge, the greater the risk of infection.

It’s important, therefore, to make up a fresh batch of formula every time your baby needs it.

The NHMRC guidelines indicate that any left-over formula should be discarded within one hour and the WHO and UK guidelines indicate two hours.

Why do they give different times?

It comes down to the different recommendations they make about the temperature of the water used to make up the formula.

Different Organisations Recommend Different Water Temperatures

Powdered infant formula is NOT a sterile product.

The WHO and UK formula feeding guidelines indicate the water used to reconstitute powdered infant formula should be at least 70 degrees Celsius (yes, 70C).

They recommend this temperature to kill any harmful bacteria in the formula.

Because the formula has been prepared in this way, these organisations suggest that left-over formula be discarded within two hours.

The NHMRC recommends using ‘cool boiled water’ to reconstitute powdered infant formula.

This water temperature might not kill off harmful bacteria which could be in the formula.

Therefore the guidelines suggest discarding any left-over formula within one hour.

All these organisations indicate that if there’s no choice, and a formula feed has to be stored, then it can be made up and stored in the coldest part of the fridge, for up to 24 hours. Any formula not used within 24 hours in such a situation must be discarded.

It’s important you have the information you need to help keep your baby safe.

You will also find these articles useful:

Formula Feeding – 9 Things To Avoid When Using Formula

Bottle Nursing – 6 Steps To Better Bottle Feeding

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Renee Kam is a mother of two daughters, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.

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