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Preparing and Handling Infant Formula

Learn to safely prepare, handle, and feed your baby infant formula.

In this article, you will find:

Safe preparation
Safe handling and feeding

Safe preparation

Preparing and Handling Infant Formula

Babies have delicate systems that are in a state of flux. That's why you should minimize the potential for troublesome germs when preparing baby's formula.

When preparing to feed baby any type of formula, begin by washing your hands with warm soapy water for at least twenty seconds, making sure to clean thoroughly under your nails. Dry hands with a clean towel.

Bottles and Nipples
Regardless of which kind of formula you choose, you must have clean feeding equipment or risk intestinal illness. After washing with warm, soapy water and rinsing thoroughly, boil bottles and nipples in a large covered pot for at least five minutes and not more than ten to make sure they are germ free. You can use a dishwasher that supplies heated water and has a hot drying cycle to clean baby bottles, but I have found that nipples must be boiled in order for them to come completely clean.

Water Supply
Cover and boil tap or bottled water for at least five minutes to reduce the chance of bacterial contamination that could make baby sick. Cool the water for at least fifteen minutes to make it easier and safer to mix with formula. Make sure to keep a lid on the water so that it remains sterile.

There are a couple of things to think about when weighing your options for the water used to make your child's formula. First and foremost, lead. Infants and children who consume lead risk long-term growth problems and learning disabilities, as this toxic metal wreaks havoc on brain development. Your home, apartment, or condominium may have lead pipes, particularly if it was constructed before 1986. Even newer dwellings using copper pipes to transport water are not completely safe, since the pipes could be connected with lead solder. Lead leaches into tap water and can make its way into infant formula.

Fluoride is a mineral that your water may lack. Most likely, the water coming into your home contains added fluoride, which is critical for strong teeth and bones. As long as it's lead-free, tap water is acceptable for making formula. If you prefer bottled water, you could be shortchanging your child when it comes to fluoride. That's because bottled waters are not required to contain fluoride. If you're unsure whether the bottled water you give to your child contains fluoride, here's what to do:

  • Call the number on the label to find out the fluoride content.
  • If there's no number to call, switch to another brand that can supply the information you need.
  • Ask your pediatrician if the fluoride level in your bottled water is sufficient for your child.
Wipe clean the top of the infant formula can to remove dust and dirt that may fall into the formula as you open the container. Make sure measuring spoons and cups are clean.

You can save time by mixing up a day's worth of formula at a time in a large container, then pouring it into individual bottles. Or store formula in a quart-size container and pour into baby bottles as needed for feedings.

Always prepare concentrated liquid formula and powdered formula according to the manufacturer's directions on the label. Using less than the recommended amount of formula means baby will not receive adequate calories and nutrients for growth and development. There's no reason to add more formula to the mix or to use less water unless your pediatrician advises it. Additional formula won't make your child any smarter, stronger, or taller, but it can endanger his health. Excess formula can burden a child's kidneys and cause other serious disorders, including dehydration.

Never add solids such as infant cereal or any other substance, including medication and any form of sugar, to an infant's bottle for any reason.

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