Infant formula is the ideal alternative for breast milk when it comes to infant nutrition. So if you’re a new mom who choose to offer powdered formula milk to your baby, it is just typical to think of stocking up a few cans to make sure your little one won’t run out of milk. But on the other hand, you might also be wondering, does powdered infant formula expire?
Just like any milk or food items, powdered infant formula does expire at a certain point. Powdered infant formula often comes with a use-by or expiration date indicating its maximum shelf life. Infant formula must also be consumed within a month after opening the packaging. Once mixed, powdered infant formula must be consumed within 2 hours after preparation when sitting in room temperature, within 24 hours if stored immediately in the refrigerator, and within 1 hour after your baby begins feeding.
Below are some additional details to fully understand why and how long formulas last unopened, opened and mixed.
How long does baby formula last unopened?
Unopened powdered infant formula usually expires after the use-by or expiration date that comes with the product.
The use-by date reflects the milk’s maximum shelf life, meaning the product will be at its best state if used before the indicated date.
Infant formula is made with a delicate balance of all the essential nutrients that babies need to survive and thrive in their first months of life. Even if they are meticulously combined and preserved, the quality of these nutrients do degrade over time. This is why the manufacturers of infant formula designates a use-by date when these nutrients are at their peak effectiveness.
On the other hand, the expiration date refers to the maximum period when the infant formula will be safe for consumption.
If you have an infant formula past that date, it would mean that the product is already expired or considered unsafe for your baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns NOT to offer expired infant formula to babies.
You’ll often find the use-by or expiration date printed at the bottom of the can, on the top of the lid, on the label or on the product’s seal.
How long is powdered formula good for after opening?
According to the CDC, most infant formula must be consumed within one month or 30 days after opening its container. However, it is advised to check the label to guide you with the exact date that the manufacturer recommends.
If it says consume within 30 days after opening, any remaining powder must be discarded if it has been opened after the indicated period.
Here are some tips to prevent offering expired powdered infant formula to your baby:
Write down the date when you opened the container
To make sure you won’t offer expired formula to your baby, it is best to write the date on the container upon opening the product. This will help you track the exact period when its contents will still be safe to offer to your baby.
Store your powdered infant formula properly
Proper storage and handling of the opened powdered infant formula are also important to preserve its freshness and prevent contamination.
The opened infant formula must be stored in a dry and cool environment, but not to be placed inside your refrigerator. Also, make sure that the lid is tightly closed every after use.
Observe good hygiene when preparing the formula
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends washing your hands thoroughly and disinfecting the area before preparing your infant formula. This will help protect the prepared formula as well as the rest of the remaining contents from contamination which may lead to stomach upset and early spoiling of the formula milk.
How long is prepared formula good for?
Once the powdered formula is mixed with water, it would generally be safe for consumption during the following periods:
- within 2 hours after preparation
- within 1 hour after your baby begins to feed, and
- within 24 hours if it is immediately stored in the refrigerator after preparation.
Once mixed or prepared, the infant formula can be a good breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria likes moist and warm environments. This is why a bottle of prepared infant formula that sits at room temperature must be consumed within 2 hours.
On the other hand, a partially consumed bottle of mixed infant formula must be thrown away one hour after your baby begins feeding. When bottles are partially consumed, they make contact with the bacteria that is naturally present in your baby’s mouth, causing the mixture to spoil more quickly.
Throw away any remaining liquid after feeding your baby. Refrigerating the remaining liquid won’t preserve it any longer.
Freshly prepared powdered infant formula can be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 24 hours.
How to recognize expired powdered infant formula
The ideal indicator of powdered infant formula expiration is the use-by or expiration date that comes with the product. However sometimes, mishandling and poor storage conditions can cause the product to expire or lose its effectiveness earlier than the indicated date.
Common signs of expired powdered infant formula include clumping, discoloration or foul smell.
To err on the side of caution, DO NOT buy powdered infant formula that is near expiration or those with a tampered seal. If you have unknowingly bought expired powdered infant formula, you may be able to return to the store to request for a return or exchange.
Powdered infant formula comes with a use-by or expiration date that indicates the time when it will be best served to your baby. If you have any doubts about the formula or its expiration date is not clear, it is best not to offer it to your baby. After all, your little one’s health and wellbeing comes before anything else!