Your bank account tends to take a hit once you become a parent. Not only do those bottles and diapers add up quickly, the price of baby formula can give you heart palpitations — I can attest to this from personal experience. To save a little money, you may want to stretch out your formula supply however you can, which may lead you to ask: can I save a bottle of formula if my baby didn't finish it? Will it cause any health issues? After all, you want the safety of your little one to come first.
Unfortunately for your pocketbook, you should always discard your baby's unfinished formula, concluded the Mayo Clinic. I know it's tempting to stick the half-full bottle in the fridge — because otherwise you'd be pouring a few bucks down the drain — but it's for your baby's health. "Any formula remaining in a bottle needs to be thrown away due to the bacteria from your baby's mouth," explains Dr. Betsy Marks, an internist and pediatrician practicing in Albany, New York, in an interview with Romper. "This bacteria can transfer into the bottle." So to protect your baby from infection or illness, it's best to toss out unused formula, no matter how much is left.
There is a way, however, to safely stretch your formula supply. "I recommend only fixing what you think your child is going to drink in one sitting," Dr. Kameelah Phillips, an OB-GYN in New York City and founder of OBaby Maternity and Parent Education, tells Romper. "It's the best way to make sure your baby consumes everything, and you don't have to feel guilty about the waste." So if you find yourself throwing out formula after every feeding, try to cut down on the amount you pour into the bottle.
On a related note, as you prepare each bottle for your baby, Marks encourages parents to follow the formula package's instructions to a T. "It can be very dangerous to put in either too little water, which can cause dehydration, or too much water, which can cause severe electrolyte imbalances," she points out. Try to keep this in mind, especially during those bleary-eyed 3 a.m. feedings when you're stumbling around to mix formula. Your baby's health will benefit from your carefulness.
On paper, feeding formula to a baby sounds easy enough, but in practice, it's a whole different story. Is your baby getting enough to eat? Or maybe too much? It's totally normal to feel stressed out, but medical experts can answer many of the questions you have, especially about formula storage. Just remember the mantra — when in doubt, throw it out — and you can rest a little easier.