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At Women & Infants Hospital, our goal is to help and support new mothers. If a new mother cannot or chooses not to breastfeed, we will make sure she feels confident about safe formula feeding before leaving the hospital. Helpful hints for bottle feeding:

  • Always hold your baby while feeding. Babies need and love to be cuddled.
  • Do not prop up the bottle. It can cause choking.
  • Look at and talk to your baby while feeding him or her. This helps form a special bond.
  • Ask your baby's health care provider before switching brands of formula.
  • Follow your baby’s signs of being hungry and full to know when and how much to feed (see feeding cues and paced bottle feeding).

Safe Formula Preparation Guidelines

Clean and Sterilize

Sterilize bottles and nipples before using them for the first time. Recommendations vary for how often you should sterilize them after the initial use. Check with your baby's health care provider for guidelines. If you use a dishwasher, sterilizing is not necessary. If you are washing bottles and nipples by hand, use hot soapy water and rinse well. Turn them upside down to dry. Before you begin to prepare the bottles, clean the work area and your hands.
Why? Cleaning and sterilizing kills harmful bacteria on equipment that may grow in the formula once it is prepared.

Use water within 30 minutes after boiling

Water to be mixed with powdered infant formula must first be boiled for two to three minutes. Do not use water that has sat for longer than 30 minutes after boiling.
Why? A boiling temperature will kill harmful bacteria that may be present in powdered formula.

Formula mixing instructions

Formula comes in three forms: powder, concentrate and ready-to-use. Carefully follow instructions on the formula can. For powder, use the scoop that comes in the formula can. Measure the amount of water exactly. For liquid concentrate, poor the needed amount in a clean bottle using ounce markers on the bottle. Measure the amount of water exactly.
Why? Using too much or not enough water can make your baby sick.

Cool quickly and feed immediately

Once a bottle is prepared, quickly cool to feeding temperature and feed your baby immediately.
Why? The longer a prepared bottle is kept after it is prepared, the greater the chance that harmful bacteria will grow in it.

Refrigerate prepared bottles you want to use later

If you need to store prepared bottles for use later, put them in the refrigerator (41º F or less). To heat refrigerated formula, put the bottle in a container of warm water. DO NOT MICROWAVE.
Why? Low temperatures (41ºF or less) will slow down or stop the growth of harmful bacteria.

Throw out leftovers

Throw out prepared formula that has not been consumed within two hours. Throw out refrigerated formula that has not been used within 24 hours.
Why? The longer formula is kept after it is prepared, the greater the chance that harmful bacteria will grow in it. Storing prepared bottles in the refrigerator means that you can store them for a little bit longer.