If you looked inside your refrigerator right now, you might find last night's spaghetti, last week's milk, and Mexican take out from — wait, when did you order that? I get it. You're a mom, and you don't exactly have time to keep up with everything in your refrigerator. But when it comes to formula, you could be putting your baby's health at risk if you don't know how long you've been storing it. If you want to make sure your baby's formula is always safe to drink, you should know the best way to store ready-to-feed formula.
Ready to feed formula can be a convenient option for many new moms. Unlike the powder or concentrated forms, there is no mixing or need to add any liquid before feeding it to your baby. But because it's always ready to drink, you need to make sure you are storing it properly and keeping your baby safe. According to the FDA, 800,000 foodborne illnesses affect children under the age of 10 in the United States each year. Parents of infants should be particularly cautious in how they handle their children's food because their immune systems are not yet capable of fighting off bacterial infections from their food.
If you are giving your baby ready to feed formula, it's important to pay close attention to the expiration dates on the formula containers, making sure to discard unused containers that have expired, even if they haven't been opened, as Gerber noted.
For formula containers within the product expiration date, proper storage can help maintain the nutritional value and make sure it is safe for your infant to drink. According to Similac, your unopened containers of ready to feed formula should be stored at room temperature. Be sure to keep the formula in its original container until you are ready to use it.
When preparing bottles in advance with larger containers of ready to feed formula, your bottles and any unused formula should be covered and refrigerated until you are ready to use them. If you are unable to use all of the formula, the unused portion should be discarded after 48 hours, as Similac suggested.
If your baby is unable to finish the entire bottle you've prepared in one sitting, don't put it back in the refrigerator. Bacteria from your baby's mouth can find it's way into her bottle, which can grow and multiply, even with refrigeration and reheating, as the FDA noted. Any formula that has not been consumed within one hour of preparation should be thrown out, according to Gerber.
You may not be able to keep up with when you bought your half and half, but by paying attention to manufacturer's guidelines and product expiration dates, you can be sure your baby's formula is always safe to drink.