Patient Guide

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Infant Formula Safety Guidelines

The following guidelines from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) dietitians will help you make sure formula is safe to feed your baby. Designed for children undergoing a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, these guidelines apply to all children.

Commercially sterile ready-to-feed and liquid-concentrate formulas should be used when available and nutritionally appropriate. The powdered form of infant formula should be used only when commercial, sterile liquid products are not available.

Expiration Dates

  • Do not buy or feed your infant formula beyond the expiration date. All formulas are marked with a “use by” or “use before” date to ensure a fresh, high-quality product.
  • Return any formula that is out of date at the time of purchase to the store where you bought it for exchange or reimbursement.

Sterilizing Bottles & Nipples

  • Sterilize all equipment and water used in preparing infant formula.
  • Use a dishwasher, if available, to wash bottles, nipples, lids, and rings. 
  • Otherwise, wash in hot, soapy water. Use a brush to clean the inside of the bottle. 
  • Rinse a minimum of three times with the hottest tap water (180°F). If unsure of rinse-water temperature, dip bottles, nipples, lids, and rings in boiling water for 30 seconds.
  • Use clean tongs or two forks to transfer boiled equipment to a clean towel to drain before filling.  

Storing Opened Formula

  • Tightly cover and immediately refrigerate opened cans of formula. Use within 48 hours.
  • Place prepared formula in clean, sterilized bottles. Refrigerate and use it within 24 hours. 
  • Infant formula should not be frozen because physical separation of the product may occur.

Heating Formula

  • Methods of heating infant formula include:
    • Heating the formula separately in a pan and transferring to a clean, sterilized bottle
    • Heating the bottle containing the formula by placing in a pan containing simmering water
    • Heating the bottle containing the formula in the microwave oven
  • Use caution when microwaving, as the bottle may remain cool even if the formula in the bottle becomes hot enough to burn your infant. 
  • Factors influencing heating time include: 1) initial temperature of the formula; 2) size of the bottle; 3) variability among microwave heat settings.
  • After heating formula, shake the bottle to evenly distribute the heat. Then check the temperature of the formula by testing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding.