Infant formula: 7 steps to prepare it safely

Are you measuring your baby's infant formula correctly? Storing it properly? Keeping the utensils clean? To make sure, follow these seven steps. By Mayo Clinic Staff

You've chosen your baby's infant formula with care — but are you preparing it properly? Follow these steps to ensure proper nutrition and avoid food-related illness.

1. Check the expiration date and condition of the container

Look for an expiration or "use by" date on the formula container. If the expiration date has passed, you can't be sure of the formula's quality. Don't buy or use outdated infant formula.

While checking the expiration date, also inspect the condition of the formula container. Don't buy or use formula from containers with bulges, dents, leaks or rust spots. Formula in a damaged container might be unsafe.

2. Wash your hands

Before preparing formula, wash your hands thoroughly. Wet your hands with warm running water, then rub soap on your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Wash all hand surfaces, including under your fingernails and in the spaces between your fingers.

3. Prepare your bottle

Sterilize bottles, nipples, caps and rings before using them for the first time:

  • Boil the bottle and accessories in water for five minutes. Use a pot that's large enough to hold all of the pieces and cover them completely with water.
  • Remove the pieces from the water using a clean set of tongs.
  • Allow the pieces to air-dry.

After the first use, there's no need to sterilize your bottle and accessories. Simply wash these items with soap and water and allow them to air-dry. Bottle and nipple brushes can help you clean nooks and crannies. You can also use the dishwasher. If you do so, consider getting a dishwasher-safe basket to hold your utensils.

Also, during the cleaning process, make sure the nipples are open. Hold each nipple upside down and fill it with clean water, then look for the water to drip slowly out of the nipple.

Remember to clean formula containers, too. Before opening a new container, wash the top with soap and water, then rinse well.

If you plan to prepare formula in the bottle, confirm the measuring marks on each bottle. Simply use a liquid measuring cup and water to make sure the measurements on the bottle are accurate.

Jan. 19, 2013 See more In-depth