Should You Reuse the Formula Left Over After Feeding?

Buying formula for your baby can be pricey, so you probably don’t want to waste it. As expensive as every drop is, specific guidelines exist for how to prepare formula and feed it to your baby. It’s important to follow instructions prohibiting reusing the formula your baby doesn’t drink at a feeding.

Store prepared formula in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before feeding it to your baby. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Leftover Formula Risks

Always throw away any formula left in a bottle after feeding your baby. Do not refrigerate the leftover formula to feed it to your baby later. Drinking from a bottle means bacteria from the baby's mouth gets into the formula in the bottle, where the bacteria can start growing. With your baby’s young age and developing immune system system, your little one could become sick from food poisoning if you feed him leftover formula. Also, your baby’s formula is perishable and will develop bacteria quickly between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, warns pediatrician Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, writing for the Fisher-Price website. Never leave the formula sitting out at room temperature or allow a feeding to last for more than one hour because of spoilage.

Never Force Feed

When your baby feels satisfied and isn’t hungry anymore, she will let you know. A satisfied baby might turn her head away from the bottle or stop sucking. When you see these cues, it’s time to end the feeding, even if formula remains in the bottle. Never force feed a baby to finish formula if she doesn’t want it, warns the Washington State Department of Health. Forcing your baby to eat could lead to overfeeding, which could make her uncomfortably full, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Dispose of any remaining formula.

Avoiding Waste

To avoid formula waste because your baby ended a feeding before finishing the bottle, pour only as much formula into the bottle as you expect your little one to finish. Between birth and 4 weeks of age, a baby should eat approximately 2 to 3 ounces of formula at every feeding, states the American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org website. From 1 month of age, your baby should take approximately 4 ounces of formula at every feeding. By 6 months of age, your baby will probably drink between 6 and 8 ounces of formula at a feeding.

Safe Handling Guidelines

When you have prepared or opened formula, feed it to your baby or store it in the refrigerator within one hour of opening or preparing to prevent bacteria from developing, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. If formula sits out at room temperature for more than one hour, throw it away.

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