Bottle Feeding: Formula Preparation :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Bottle Feeding: Formula Preparation

All infants under 1 year of age should receive infant formula, not cow's milk, if they are not being breastfed.

There are several ways to make formula. The method explained here is the "clean" method. Wash the bottles, nipples, caps and rings after you buy them and after each use.

You Will Need

  • Formula (liquid concentrate or powder) as ordered by the doctor
  • 8-ounce nursing bottles
  • Nipples, caps, and rings for bottles
  • Cooking pan with lid
  • Pitcher
  • Liquid dish washing soap
  • Can opener
  • Metal or plastic (not wooden) spoon for mixing
  • Water

Preparing the Equipment

Picture 1 - Wash the equipment.
Image of equipment
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Wash the bottles, nipples, caps and rings in either hot, soapy water with dishwashing liquid or in a dishwasher (nipples should not be washed in a dishwasher) (Picture 1). Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.  Avoid using a bottle brush to scrub the bottle, as the brush may damage the bottle.
  3. Rinse the top of the can of liquid concentrate formula with clean water.
  4. You may use city water or bottled drinking water when making formula.  Run the cold water for one minute to flush the water pipes.  (If using bottled water make sure that it is labeled as “drinking water.”)   Do not use well water* or distilled water.
  5. Picture 2 - If using well water, bring it to a boil, cover and let cool.
    Image of boil

*If you cannot get city water or bottled drinking water, well water may be used only if it is boiled first.  Place the water in a cooking pan with a lid and bring the water to a rolling boil for 1 minute, then let it cool (Picture 2).

Preparing Formula from Liquid Concentrate

Picture 3 - Measure liquid concentrate or powdered formula and add to water.
Image of water
  1. Using an 8-ounce baby bottle, measure _____ ounces of water and pour it into a clean pitcher.
  2. Shake the can of liquid concentrate well before opening.  Open the can with a clean, punch-type can opener.
  3. Measure _____ ounces of liquid concentrate formula. Add this to the water (Picture 3). Shake or stir with the clean spoon.
  4. As needed, pour _____ ounces of this formula into one of the baby bottles.
  5. Insert nipple into ring and twist onto baby bottle. Feed infant.
  6. Place the remaining prepared formula (in the pitcher) in the refrigerator. Use within 48 hours.

If you have liquid concentrate remaining, cover the opened can and mark it with the date and time it was opened. Store the covered can of remaining liquid concentrate in the refrigerator and use within 48 hours of when it was opened.

Picture 4 - Pour prepared formula into the bottles.
Image of bottles

Preparing Powdered Formula

  1. Measure _____ ounces of water and pour it into a clean pitcher.
  2. Open the can of powdered formula.
  3. Measure _____ level scoops of formula powder. Add this to the water. Shake or stir well with the clean spoon.
  4. Follow Steps 4 and 6 in Preparing Formula From Liquid Concentrate above.
  5. Place remaining prepared formula (in pitcher) in the refrigerator. Use within 24 hours. Close the can of formula powder with the plastic lid.  On the lid or the can, mark the date that it was opened. Do not keep an opened can of formula powder longer than one month from the date it was opened.

Special Tips and Advice

  • If you use bottled drinking water, ask your doctor about fluoride supplements.
  • Prepared liquid concentrate formula will keep for 48 hours in the refrigerator. Prepared powdered formula will keep for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Rinse the bottles and nipples in cold water immediately after each feeding. This makes it easier to get all the formula out of the bottle when you wash it.
  • If the baby doesn't take all of the formula within an hour after you start to give the bottle, throw the rest away.
  • Ready-to-feed formula is available in bottles or 8-ounce cans. This is easier to use when traveling.  It is more expensive than regular formula. This usually comes in 20 caloriesper ounce.

CAUTION: Infants under 1 year of age should not be fed honey or corn syrup (such as Karo®).  These products are not sterile.  They may contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning in young infants.

If you have any questions, be sure to call your doctor, dietitian, or nurse.

Bottle Feeding: Formula Preparation (PDF)

HH-IV-7 10/76, Revised 5/09 Copyright 1976-2009, Nationwide Children's Hospital

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