When you're a brand new mom, life can get pretty overwhelming. Not only are you feeling sore and sleep-deprived, you might be struggling with how to formula-feed your screaming bundle of joy. Did you add enough water? Did you shake the bottle hard enough? And wait, how long does formula last in the fridge anyway? Fortunately, medical experts have offered guidelines for you to follow, which means you'll have one less thing to worry about.
As a general rule, you should toss out prepared powdered formula and liquid-concentrate formula after 24 hours in the refrigerator, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your baby drinks ready-to-use formula instead (the type where you don't have to add any water), you can wait 48 hours before throwing out the refrigerated container. While it might make you cringe to toss the liquid — formula can be super expensive, after all — it's better to play it safe.
There may come times, too, when you honestly can't remember how long your formula has been hanging out next to your takeout boxes. When that's the case, just pour out the container. "After the baby's mouth sucks on the bottle, bacteria is introduced into the formula," points out Dr. Kameelah Phillips, an OB-GYN in New York City and founder of OBaby Maternity and Parent Education, in an interview with Romper. "Formula is a great media to grow bacteria and you don't want your baby drinking formula that could potentially be contaminated." So when in doubt? Throw it out.
If you're having trouble recalling how long your formula has been in the fridge — sleep deprivation can do that to you — you may want to label each bottle after you've prepared it. A simple sticky note would do, and it could save you money in the long run.
Taking care of a baby can be exhausting, whether you formula-feed or breastfeed or use a combination of the two. Thankfully, your medical providers are ready to help whenever you have questions about feeding your little one. Be sure to keep their numbers in your phone — and remember that you're doing a great job already.