Bottle Feeding Formula Preparation

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All infants under 1 year of age should be given breastmilk or infant formula. Cow, goat and plant-based milk are not recommended.

Measure all the formula, powder or liquid concentrate, and water using the instructions on the formula can, unless otherwise instructed by your health care team.


You Will Need

  • formula (powder or liquid concentrate) as ordered by your health care provider
  • nipples, caps and rings for bottles
  • metal or plastic (not wooden) spoon for mixing
  • water
  • 8-ounce nursing bottles
  • pitcher
  • liquid dish washing soap
  • cooking pan with lid
  • can opener if using liquid concentrate

Preparing the Equipment

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water before cleaning bottles, making formula and feeding your baby.Wash the Equipment
  2. Wash the bottles, caps and rings in either hot, soapy water with dishwashing liquid or in a dishwasher (Picture 1). Wash after opening, and after each use. To clean nipples, follow directions on the package. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry. Do not use a bottle brush to scrub the bottle; it may damage the bottle.

Distilled or purified water can be used without boiling it. All other water should be boiled then cooled as described below. This includes all other bottled water and all tap water.

Boiling Water
  • Do NOT use well water. Use distilled or purified water in place of well water.
  • You may use city water or regular bottled drinking water to make formula if you boil it first as outlined below. (Picture 2).
  • To boil water:
  1. Run the cold water for 2 minutes to flush the water pipes.
  2. Boil for 1 minute, with the lid on the pan.
  3. Cool to room temperature before using.
  • Boil water for the first 3 months of age. Boil water longer if your health care provider recommends it or if water safety is a concern.

Making Formula from Liquid Concentrate

  • Before you open the liquid concentrate formula can, rinse it with clean water. Use an 8-ounce baby bottle to measure the ounces of water, then pour it into a clean pitcher.
  • Shake the liquid concentrate can well before opening.
  • Open the can with a clean, punch-type can opener.Measure Liquid Concentrate
  • Measure the ounces of liquid concentrate formula. Add this to the water (Picture 3). Shake or stir with a clean spoon.
  • As needed, pour the amount of formula you need to feed your baby into one of the clean bottles.
  • Insert nipple into ring and twist onto baby bottle.
  • Shake the bottle. It is now ready to feed to your baby.
  • Put the remaining prepared formula in the pitcher in the refrigerator. Use within 48 hours.
  • If you have liquid concentrate remaining, cover the opened can with plastic wrap or foil. Mark it with the date and time it was opened. Store the covered can of remaining liquid concentrate and any mixed formula in the refrigerator.
  • Use any mixed formula within 48 hours of when it was opened. Throw out any mixed formula that is not used after 48 hours (2 days).

Making Formula from Powder

  1. Measure the ounces of water and pour into a clean pitcher or clean baby bottle.
  2. Open the can of powdered formula.
  3. Measure level scoops of formula powder. *Add this to the water.
  4. Shake or stir well with a clean spoon.
  5. As needed, pour the amount of formula you need to feed your baby into one of the clean bottles (Picture 4).
  6. Place any unused prepared formula in the refrigerator. Use within 24 hours.Pour Prepared Formula
  7. Insert nipple into ring and twist onto baby bottle. Shake the bottle. It is ready to feed to your baby.
  8. Close the can of formula powder with the plastic lid.
  9. On the lid or the can, mark the date that you opened it.
  10. Do not keep a can of formula powder more than 1 month from the date it was opened.

Some formulas call for packed scoops of powder. Check instructions on the formula can.

Special Tips and Advice

  • If your baby does not drink all the formula in a bottle within an hour from the time you start to give it, throw the rest away.
  • Always feed or refrigerate prepared formula right away.
  • Do not feed honey or corn syrup (such as Karo®) to babies under 1 year of age. These products are not germ free. They may cause food poisoning in young infants.

If you have any questions, be sure to call your health care provider.

Bottle Feeding: Formula Preparation (PDF)

HH-IV-7 ©1979, Revised 2021, Nationwide Children’s Hospital