Finding comprehensive information and tips for preparing infant formula isn’t easy, and while it isn’t a difficult process, it is important to ensure you’re doing it correctly.
Like most things, it’s easy when you know how – so we asked Accredited Practising Paediatric Dietitian, Shae Rickards to put together a step-by-step guide to preparing your baby’s feed.
- Before preparing formula, wash your hands thoroughly and wipe clean the preparation area. In preparing formula, strict hygiene practices must be used to prevent your baby becoming unwell from exposure to harmful germs.
- Wash all equipment with warm soapy water and a bottle-cleaning brush, rinsing well (or through the dishwasher) and then sterilise all utensils.
- Boil drinking water and allow to cool for 30 minutes or until lukewarm.
- Measure the correct amount of cooled (previously boiled) water into a sterilised feeding bottle. The feeding guide on the can will advise the amount of water required to make up a feed per scoop of formula. The water should always be put in the bottle before the formula powder.
- Fill the enclosed measuring scoop with formula powder. Give the scoop a gentle tap on the side of the can to get rid of any major air gaps. Level the scoop off with the in-built leveller or sterilised blunt knife. Always use the scoop provided with the formula because different formulas may have different scoop sizes. To help ensure your baby will be meeting their nutritional requirements, it is important to prepare the formula with the right amount of formula powder to water as prescribed on the can and according to the manufacturer’s instructions (unless under the specific guidance and instruction of a qualified health care professional such as your GP or paediatrician). Over-concentration or under-concentration can be harmful.
- Screw the teat on the bottle and shake gently until the formula dissolves completely.
- Always test the temperature by allowing a few drops to fall on the inside of your wrist – it should feel lukewarm before feeding your baby. If it is too warm, cool the bottle under running water or in a container of cool water. If it is too cool, you can warm the bottle by standing it in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water for around 5-10 minutes or until desired temperature is achieved. Avoid using a microwave oven for any formula preparation, because microwave heating can generate ‘hot spots’ within a prepared bottle or sipper/feeing cup and this can burn your baby’s mouth.
- Feed your baby immediately and discard any unfinished formula. Any prepared formula which has been at room temperature for longer than 1 hour must be discarded. It is ideal to prepare only one bottle of formula at a time, although you might find it more convenient to prepare a sufficient number of sterilised water bottles to see you through a day. In this case, the sterilised bottled water should be stored in the refrigerator until ready for use. After the feed, wash all equipment so it is ready to be sterilised for next the feed.
- Use a fresh bottle for every feed.
- Test the formula is flowing out of teat by holding the bottle upside down and the formula should drip out at a constant, steady rate (note: of course, the formula flow rate will depend on the specific teat).
- The feeding instructions on the pack will give you an indication of the number of feeds your baby may need per day. This feeding guide is a general guide only as every baby is different. You should seek advice from your qualified health care professional such as your GP, dietitian or paediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s individual needs.
- If you are going out and need to take your baby’s food with you, don’t take the formula already made up. It is best to take the pre-measured water in the bottle and the powder in a separate sterilised container or sachet. The water can then be warmed as specified above, after which you can tip the powder into the water when you are ready to feed your baby.
- Check expiry date of formula on base of can to ensure the formula has not passed its expiry (use-by) date.
- Keep the scoop in the can when not in use. There is no need to wash the scoop after preparing a bottle. However if the scoop gets wet accidently, you will need to wash and dry it thoroughly before putting it back in the can.
- Always keep formula in its original can and cover with the plastic lid to prevent contamination of the powder. Do not transfer the powder to another container because this introduces a high risk of contamination.
- Once a can of powdered formula has been opened, it can be kept safely for four weeks if stored in a cool dry place. Discard any unused formula after four weeks.