Safe Formula Preparation
It’s important to make an informed decision about feeding your baby. Speak with a Public Health Nurse if you have questions.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding starting around six months.
If you made an informed decision to formula feed your baby, choose an iron-fortified cow’s milk-based commercial infant formula, unless otherwise advised by your health care provider.
Place bottles of extra formula on the top shelf of your refrigerator (4°C or lower) and use within 24 hours. Never freeze formula.
Formula Safety Tips:
- Check Health Canada’s website for any infant formula recalls.
- Before starting to prepare formula, always wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Be careful to prepare formula safely or your baby can get sick. It’s best to make the formula fresh and use it right away.
- Home-made formula is not a substitute for commercially produced infant formula and may be harmful to your baby.
- We do not recommend using automatic formula preparation machines to prepare powdered infant formula, as they do not use water hot enough to kill bacteria in powdered formula. Bacteria can cause serious illness in babies.
Safe Formula Preparation Printable Resources:
Storing and Transporting Formula:
All properly prepared bottles of formula must be used within 24 hours.
Store formula on the top shelf of the refrigerator, never in the door of a refrigerator.
Stored formula should only be removed from the refrigerator just before
- it’s going to be used and reheated or
- transported in a cooler bag with icepacks
- make sure formula is cooled before transporting it
- if transported cold within two hours and then placed in a refrigerator, it can be used within 24 hours of the time it was prepared
Bottle-feeding Your Baby:
Feed your baby when she is hungry and ready to feed. Watch and listen for her hunger cues:
- Licking lips and opening mouth
- Trying to suck at whatever is close to her face
- Rubbing her face with hands
- Sucking on her hands
- Crying is a late sign of hunger
Before starting a feeding, always test formula temperature by letting a drop fall on your wrist. It should feel warm. Once you start feeding your baby, the formula should be used within two hours or discarded.
Always hold your baby during feeding. Smile and talk to your baby and make it a special time for both parent and baby. Hold your baby in an upright position, supporting her head and neck with your hand and pace the bottle feed (PDF). This allows your baby to drink at a comfortable rate and helps prevent overfeeding.
Skin-to-skin is important even when bottle-feeding because it:
- helps stabilize baby’s heart rate, breathing, blood sugar and adjust to life outside the womb
- keeps baby warm
- helps you and your baby get to know each other
- helps to soothe your baby
- provides quality bonding time and can be practiced by mothers, fathers and other care givers in the family
Never prop a bottle because it can:
- cause choking
- lead to tooth decay
- cause your baby to drink too much or too little
Do not add cereal or thickeners to formula because:
- Baby will not get the right amount of nutrients for proper growth and development.
- It can cause choking.
Change positions part way through the feeding to allow stimulation to both eyes and both sides of the body. This also helps to prevent the development of a side preference when feeding.
Burping your baby helps to release air that is swallowed during a feeding. This can be done when she is about halfway through a feeding or when she shows signs of needing to burp, such as:
- arching her back
- pulling/bending her legs
- getting cranky or fussy
- pulling away from the bottle
Watch for these cues that suggest your baby is full:
- Falling asleep
- Turning head aside
- No longer sucking
- Letting go of the nipple
- Pursing lips
Remove the bottle if your baby shows any of these dangerous signs:
- Swallowing quickly without taking a breath after each swallow
- Milk spilling from her mouth
- Opening eyes widely
- Stiffening of arms and legs
- Flaring nostrils
- Lips turning blue
It could mean that the formula is flowing too quickly, or that your baby needs to take a breath or a break, or that your baby is full.
Formula fed infants may still need a vitamin D supplement. Find out how much Vitamin D your baby needs.
For more information:
Region of Peel – Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
To speak with a Public Health Nurse