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Pregnancy and baby

How to make up baby formula

Good hygiene is very important when making up a formula feed.

Your baby's immune system isn't as strong as an adult's. That's why bottles, teats and any other feeding equipment need to be washed and sterilised before each feed.

This will reduce the chance of your baby getting an infection, in particular diarrhoea and vomiting.

Step-by-step guide to preparing a formula feed

  • Step 1: Fill the kettle with at least 1 litre of fresh tap water (don't use water that has been boiled before).
  • Step 2: Boil the water. Then leave the water to cool for no more than 30 minutes, so that it remains at a temperature of at least 70C.
  • Step 3: Clean and disinfect the surface you are going to use.
  • Step 4: It's important that you wash your hands.
  • Step 5: If you are using a cold-water steriliser, shake off any excess solution from the bottle and the teat, or rinse them with cooled boiled water from the kettle (not tap water).
  • Step 6: Stand the bottle on the cleaned, disinfected surface.
  • Step 7: Follow the manufacturer's instructions and pour the amount of water you need into the bottle. Double check that the water level is correct. Always put the water in the bottle first, while it is still hot, before adding the powdered formula.
  • Step 8: Loosely fill the scoop with formula powder, according to the manufacturer's instructions, and level it off using either the flat edge of a clean, dry knife or the leveller provided. Different tins of formula come with different scoops. Make sure you only use the scoop that comes with the formula.
  • Step 9: Holding the edge of the teat, put it on the bottle. Then screw the retaining ring onto the bottle.
  • Step 10: Cover the teat with the cap and shake the bottle until the powder is dissolved.
  • Step 11: It's important to cool the formula so it's not too hot to drink. Do this by holding the bottle (with the lid on) under cold running water.
  • Step 12: Test the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before giving it to your baby. It should be body temperature, which means it should feel warm or cool, but not hot.
  • Step 13: If there is any made-up formula left after a feed, throw it away.

Dos and don'ts of making up formula feeds

  • Manufacturers' instructions vary as to how much water and powder to use, so it's important to follow them very carefully.
  • Don't add extra formula powder when making up a feed. This can make your baby constipated or dehydrated. Too little powder may not give your baby enough nourishment.
  • Don't add sugar or cereals to your baby's formula.
  • Never warm up formula in a microwave, as it may heat the feed unevenly and burn your baby's mouth.

Reducing the risk of infection

Even when tins and packets of powdered infant formula are sealed, they can sometimes contain bacteria.

Bacteria multiply very fast at room temperature. Even when a feed is kept in a fridge, bacteria can still survive and multiply, although more slowly.

To reduce the risk of infection, it's best to make up feeds one at a time, as your baby needs them.

Use freshly boiled drinking water from the tap to make up a feed. Don't use artificially softened water or water that has been boiled before.

Leave the water to cool in the kettle for no more than 30 minutes. Then it will stay at a temperature of at least 70C. Water at this temperature will kill any harmful bacteria.

Remember to let the feed cool before you give it to your baby. Or you can run the bottle (with the lid on) under a cold tap.

Don't use bottled water to make up formula feeds

Bottled water is not recommended for making up feeds, as it's not sterile and may contain too much salt (sodium) or sulphate.

See more about why bottled water isn't recommended for making up formula.

More information

Read more about bottle feeding and find the answers to common questions about formula milk.


Page last reviewed: 02/10/2016

Next review due: 02/10/2019

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