newborn care

12 Steps to Safe Formula Feeding for Your Baby

Although breastfeeding is the ideal way to nourish a newborn, there are many moms who are unable to breastfeed and others who choose to feed their babies formula, which is the only safe and recommended alternative to breast milk. Whether your baby is completely formula-fed or fed formula to supplement breastfeeding, these 12 important steps should be followed:

1. Wash hands and clean work area before preparing baby bottles. Cleanliness is critical.

2. Put new bottles and nipples in boiling water for five minutes before using them the first time. Also wash them for one minute in hot soapy water after each use.

3. When opening a can of formula, clean the lid and the can opener of dust or soil.

4. Do not place wet spoons or scoops in the formula container—take care to keep the formula powder dry.

5. Check with your baby's doctor about the need to boil water for powdered formula preparation. If sterilizing the water is necessary, the water should be boiled for one minute at a rolling boil and then cooled. Bottled water, including distilled water, is not sterile unless boiled (or unless it is labeled  as sterile).

6. Don't add water to ready-to-feed formula. Always follow label directions to mix concentrated liquid and powder formulas. Shake containers before pouring.

7. To avoid burning baby's mouth, never microwave bottles. Warm them in a bottle warmer or hot water.

8. Stop feeding when the baby is full (spits out nipple, falls asleep, lies quietly).

9. Discard leftover formula after each feeding. Do not reheat or use again.

10. Previously chilled bottles of formula should be discarded if left out of a cooler or refrigerator for more than an hour.

11. Never feed infant formula that has expired or formula from a dented container.

12. Buy formula only from reputable retailers and not from online auctions or flea markets to ensure the quality of the product.

For information on breastfeeding your baby, click here

This resource was developed with the support of the International Formula Council