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Infant formula is an excellent alternative for breast milk because it is specially formulated with all the essential nutrients needed for babies to grow healthy and strong. Many parents have turned to it as the sole source of their babies’ food or to supplement their dwindling breast milk supply. If the formula is the route you want to take, your baby will still grow healthy, just like a breastfed baby. But, there are some safe handling practices you must adhere to, to ensure your baby gets the most nutritional benefits from the formula, and keep the formula safe from bacteria that could make your baby ill. Keep reading to arm yourself with knowledge of the safety measures you need when feeding your baby with formula, and also know when it’s time to discard it.

Shelf Life/ Baby Formula Expiration Date (unopened formulas)

Every baby formula package will always have the expiry date printed on it. Powder baby formulas usually last up to a year, and in most cases, parents use the formula way before the expiry.

It is vital for you to always check the expiry because some stores are not keen on the dates and leave formulas on the shelf for a long time.

Never use baby formula past the expiration date indicated on the packaging.

Below are the steps to find the formula expiration date:

  • For powdered formula on container cans, look for the note similar to the one appearing below;
Baby Formula Expiration Date printed on the side of can for unopened formula

For infant formula in liquid containers, find the Use By/Expiration Date label on the side of the carton or the formula package similar to the one below;

infant formula expiry date label

Similac shelf life 

Similac formulas have 1 year of shelf life from the day of manufacture. You can find the expiry date at the bottom of the cans and on the boxes.

Expiry of untouched baby formula (after it is opened): how long is formula good for once opened

Although formula powder is long-lasting, the formula expiry time is greatly hastened once the can is opened. Most formula brands recommend using their formula within one month of opening.

Many parents claim that their doctor advised them that formula is safe to use as long as it isn’t clumping, but you don’t want to take any risk when it comes to your baby’s health. Stale food is not suitable for anybody, let alone your baby.

Manufacturers recommend storing powder formula in a cool and dry place to maintain and ensure its quality.

Expiring of the refrigerated formula: How long is formula good for in the fridge/refrigerated?

With all the pressures of day-to-day life, most moms prefer to prepare the baby bottle beforehand and keep it in the fridge to use conveniently as the baby needs. If you mix the formula ahead and refrigerate, your baby can only use it within 24 hours. That is the shelf life of refrigerated formula made from powdered formula.

If you refrigerated ready-made formula concentrate or formula prepared from the concentrate within two hours of opening, it remains safely stored for your baby to use within 48 hours.

Powdered Formula: how long does baby formula powder last

Once you mix powdered formula it remains safe to use for 2 hours at room temperature. If you keep in the fridge (so long as it was untouched), it remains safe to use for 24 hours. If you are keeping it in a cool bag with ice packs, it should be used within 4 hours.

How long is formula good for after warming it up

A heated bottle prepared from powder, concentrate, and ready-to-drink options should be used within 1 hour. Any leftover formula should be discarded.

Printable on breast milk and formula storage and expiring

You can get a copy of a downloadable table from Today’s Parent here

Expired formula symptoms

If you are not sure if the formula is expired or not, it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding your baby with it.

When the formula starts to expire you will notice the following characteristics:

  • The flavor of the formula will be off
  • Clumping
  • The ingredients might appear separate
  • Your baby might start refusing her bottle, or she might become sick after feeding

But also keep in mind, that if you don’t practice good hygiene when preparing your baby’s bottle, they could get sick from contamination from your hands. So always wash and dry your hands before mixing and ensure you are using sterilized bottles.

What to do with expired formula

Babies go through formula so quickly that most parents have never had an expired formula. But sometimes it is possible to keep the formula too long until it expires. Like if you usually buy in bulk or you are breastfeeding, and you had received many samples during pregnancy, and stowed them at the back of a shelf somewhere and totally forgot to give them to someone who may need it. Regardless, the formula can still get to good use.

If you find yourself with an expired can, don’t throw it away. You can donate to your local animal shelter, where it will be used to feed kitties and puppies that need it.

What to do when baby drinks expired formula?

Sometimes accidents happen, and indeed no parent would want to feed their little one with expired formula. But what if after your baby has gulped down the bottle, you get a whiff of foul smell from the bottle, and upon checking, you realize the formula is expired?

You do two things. One, observe your baby for any abnormal reactions from discomforts. Normally, if a baby feeds on stale formula, they could have abdominal discomforts like cramping, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. If you notice such signs of infections you should take her to the doctor for treatment immediately.

The second obvious thing to do is discard the formula.

Excel formula to determine formula expiration date 

Suppose you have a list with two date values as appearing in B1:B2, and you want to calculate the expiration date after 30 days, you can use the following formula:

=B1+30

To calculate the expiry for the two months, you can use the formula below based on the EDATE function, as follows:

=EDATE (B1, 2)

To calculate expiration in the one year, you can use still the formula like this:

=EDATE (B1, 12)

Excel usually processes date values as serial numbers, with January 1, 1900, being serial number 1. To calculate dates and days ahead, you can add days directly to the function, as shown above. And to calculate by months, you can use the EDATE function, and it will return the same date and months in the future or before.

Formula storage containers – find 2 and link to amazon

Sometimes a mama has to go outside the home with the baby and it would be cumbersome to carry those big, clunky formula tubs. That’s where formula dispensers or storage containers come in. Small and compact, these containers help keep pre-measured formula safe so you will just need to mix with water and feed the baby when needed. They are also convenient for late-night feeds as they eliminate the misery of measuring out formula half asleep, with almost no light, and hungry fussy baby.

Below are our two best dispensers that will help you feed your baby without much hassle.

Philips Avent Formula Dispenser

This is a small and portable container that holds enough powder formula to make three, 9-ounce bottles. It has a removable inner liner divided into three compartment shells for easy formula measurement. The rotating cap keeps the formula from pouring into other compartments. This dispenser has only three pieces and is easy to assemble and disassemble. It is also BPA-free and is both microwave and dishwasher safe. With the inner lining removed, you can use the container for your child to carry snacks with later when they are grown. This container is great for any mom on the go as you can just throw it in your diaper bag.

Baby Brezza Formula Pro Advanced Formula Dispenser Machine

This is not a portable option, but it is a multifunctional unit with an innovative design that helps you mix, warm, and dispense baby formula instantly. Its settings are designed to work with all formula brands and types. The mixing system is fully customizable, and there are three warming options to choose from. You can prepare formula for all bottle sizes from 2-10 ounce bottles, and it gives formula with a very smooth consistency and without air bubbles.

To prepare your baby’s bottle, you just need to match your formula brand with Baby Brezza’s settings, select your preferred temperature and bottle size, push the start button, and Baby Brezza will do the rest! You will love this dispenser as it is super convenient for late-night feeds or when you have a new babysitter because they only have to push a button to make the baby bottle with just the right consistency and temperatures.

It also has a water tank and wheels so you can easily move it to your bedroom or any other room and make your baby’s bottle anytime, anywhere.

FAQs on Formula Expiry

Why does the formula expire after 30 days?

Formula manufacturers do not recommend using powdered formula after 30 days after opening because the nutrients start to degrade, which means your baby will not get their nutritional value.

Can I exchange expired formula?

Although it depends on the retailer, most stores will allow you to exchange an expired formula for a newer package if you accidentally bought one from their premises. You will need to prove it was expired when you bought it and it has to be unopened.

How to tell if powdered formula is expired

You can tell if the formula is expired if it has the following characteristics:

  • The formula has a foul odor
  • Ingredients appear separated
  • It forms clumps when mixing
  • Baby suddenly refuses her bottle

Baby drank old formula, what to do?

Monitor them for food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. These symptoms occur within 24 hours after feeding and may last a few days. If your baby is sick, visit a doctor so they can receive treatment. Also, discard the formula.

Why does formula expire after an hour?

When the baby drinks from a bottle, their saliva gets into the formula introducing bacteria. The harmful bacteria start to grow after one hour, and feeding the baby to such formula puts them at risk of getting serious illnesses.

Formula container left open, is it still good?

It’s always a safe practice to close the container once you measure out your formula to keep it from any contamination. But, if you happen to forget once or twice, the formula won’t be ruined and rendered unsafe for consumption.

Can I use formula after 4 weeks of opening?

It is not recommended to use formula after 30 days after opening as the nutrients start to degrade and hence not effective in providing the required nutritional value. Besides, you can’t be sure that it won’t make your baby sick.

Does ready to feed formula expire?

Once you open a container of ready-to-feed and liquid concentrate formulas are good for 48 hours.

Can you reheat formula?

When you heat infant formula, it should be used immediately. Any leftovers should be discarded and never be reheated. This applies to feeds prepared from powdered formulas, concentrates, and ready-to-drink options.

Does formula really go bad after an hour?

If the prepared formula is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it gets spoilt and should be discarded. It should be used within 2 hours of preparation and within 1 hour once feeding begins. If you don’t intend to feed the baby within 2 hours, you should refrigerate the formula immediately after preparing and use it within 24 hours.

How long does a can of formula last?

Babies go through formula cans fast. On average, a 12.5 oz. can of baby formula lasts about 3-4 days with a newborn (0-2 months old), 2-3 days with an infant (2-4 months old), and 2-3 days with a 6-month-old and above. Standard Formula cans (30oz) and bulk formula sizes (35oz+) will last longer and give you better value.

Can powder formula go bad in heat?

Most formula brands follow a general rule of storing the formula in a cool and dry place. You should not store powdered formula in the fridge. Unless the manufacturer has advised otherwise, the best temperatures to keep formula would be between 13°C [55°F] and 24°C [75°F], although up to 35°C [95°F] is also within acceptable limits. Storing formula at extreme temperatures compromises the quality.

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