Baby Formula Storage Guidelines

By Susan Revermann
Keep her safe by disposing of uneaten milk.
Keep her safe by disposing of uneaten milk.

To keep your baby safe and healthy, you need to correctly mix and store her milk. Improper baby formula storage can lead to bacteria growth, and this poses a dangerous safety issue for your baby’s immature immune system. If you follow the proper safety guidelines, your child should be able to get the right amount of nutrients to help her grow big and strong.

Powder Formula

Although powdered baby formula is relatively stable, there are certain locations that are better for storage. The United States Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Library recommends storing a can of powdered formula in a cool, dry place. A kitchen pantry or cupboard is sufficient. Keep the package out of direct sunlight, as well as away from heat sources and moist areas. If you mix up a bottle of water and powder formula, store the bottles in the back of the fridge, because it’s the coolest area, and not in the fridge door where there are temperature fluctuations. If you can’t use the unused, mixed bottle within 24 hours, dump it.

Liquid Formula

Unopened liquid concentrate formula should be stored in a cool, dry place. After you open the container, however, you should cover the liquid and store it in the refrigerator. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you must use opened and mixed liquid concentrate formula within 48 hours or throw it away.

Ready-to-Feed Formula

Ready-to-feed formula comes in its own convenient storage and serving containers. Unopened containers can be stored at room temperature. After you open the container, any unused liquid should be covered and placed in the fridge. Use this liquid within 48 hours or throw it away.

Shelf Life

Each can of formula has a specific shelf life. An unopened can will have an expiration date printed somewhere on the packaging. Before purchasing the formula, look to make sure the product is not past its expiration date. Check it again before you open it, just to make sure. Once you open a can of baby formula, you must use it within a month. To keep track of when the can was opened, use a marker to write the date on the container.

Other Factors

A bottle can only be safely left out at room temperature for an hour before you must throw the milk away, according to child development experts at the Kids Health website. If your baby doesn’t want all of her prepared bottle, you can’t save the uneaten portion left in the bottle on which she was sucking. The bacteria in her saliva may have gotten through the hole in the bottle nipple to mix with the milk, and this will pose a health risk. Be safe and just toss it.