How to Make a Bottle of Formula

Article By
Stu
Published On
28 Nov, 2022
Read Time
4 minutes

As powdered baby formula is not sterile, hygiene and protecting your little one's immune system should always be at the forefront of your mind when you're making a bottle of formula.

To reduce the risk of infection, every piece of feeding equipment you use should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised before every feed. This should be done until your little one is 12 months old. You should also always follow the instructions on the formula's packaging carefully when you make up a bottle feed.

Making a baby bottle: What you'll need

Formula feeding must-haves

  • A clean and sterile work surface
  • A kettle
  • A clean water supply
  • Your choice of first infant formula or ready-to-feed liquid formula (if you're going to give your baby ready-to-feed liquid formula, you only need to wash your hands thoroughly, swirl the bottle thoroughly, attach a teat)
  • At least six bottles with caps in various sizes
  • At least six teats in a range of flow rates
  • A bottle and teat brush
  • Sterilising equipment
  • Tongs to pick up your sterilised feeding equipment
  • Muslin cloths and bibs

Formula feeding nice-to-haves

How to make a formula bottle at home: Step-by-step guide

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands and make sure that the surface you're going to prepare the bottle on is clean and disinfected.
  2. Use at least one litre of clean tap water to top your kettle up.
  3. Read the instructions on the formula's label carefully. This will let you know exactly how much water and powder you need.
  4. Pour the required amount of water into your bottle, and then double check to make sure the volume of water is correct.
  5. Once the cooled boiled water is added, follow the manufacturers' guidelines, and add the exact amount of formula powder you need to the bottle using the scoop provided. Adding too much powder could cause your baby to become constipated or dehydrated. Using too little powder can potentially lead to your baby not getting the nourishment they need.
  6. Reseal the formula's packaging to protect it from germs and moisture.
  7. Screw on the bottle ring and teat securely, and then pop the cap on the teat. Then, swirl the bottle so all the formula dissolves and there are no clumps visible.
  8. Once mixed, you can cool the bottle of formula down by holding it (with the cap still on) under cold running water or by placing it in a bowl of cool water.
  9. The formula should be body temperature and feel lukewarm, but not hot. It's a good idea to test the temperature by pouring a few small drops onto the inside of your wrist first. Then, you're ready to feed!
  10. Thoroughly clean the bottle and teat, and pop them back in your steriliser, so they're ready for baby's next feed.

Don’t forget

If there's any formula left over after your baby's finished feeding, you should dispose of it within two hours.

How to prepare a baby's bottle while away from home

Now that we've covered how to make a bottle of baby formula at home, let's tackle how to prepare a feed for your little one when you're on the go.

If you need to feed your baby when you're away from home, you'll need:

  • The correct amount of formula powder measured out and stored in a clean and dry container.
  • A clean flask of hot boiled water that's only used for your baby.
  • An empty sterilised bottle and teat with a protective cap on.
  • To be able to cool the bottle (with the lid on) under cold running water once it's prepared.

If you're not able to follow the above steps or need to take a feed to your baby's nursery, you can make up their bottle at home, cool it, and pop it alongside an ice pack in a cool bag.

Formula stored:

  • in the fridge must be used in 24 hours
  • with an ice pack in a cool bag must be used in four hours
  • at room temperature must be used within two hours.

Alternatively, you can use a carton of ready-to-feed liquid formula to feed your baby when away from home. Liquid formula milk is sterile until opened. However, all feeding equipment will still need sterilising. Once it's been opened, any liquid infant formula that is unused should be stored on the top shelf at the back of the fridge, for no longer than 24 hours.

Formula bottle preparation: Dos and don'ts

  • Do get in touch with your midwife, health visitor or doctor if you need help and support with bottle feeding your baby.
  • Do use freshly boiled tap water to prepare a formula feed. 
  • Do only make up a fresh feed when your baby needs it, and only make one feed at a time.
  • Don't mix cereals or sugar into your baby's formula.
  • Don't use a microwave to heat formula milk. This can cause an uneven temperature and dangerous hot spots that can scald your baby's mouth.
  • Don't use synthetically softened water or water that's previously been boiled to make up a formula feed.

Can I use bottled water for a formula feed?

Bottled water isn't recommended for preparing formula feeds. This is because it's not sterile and can sometimes contain high levels of salt or sulphates. It can, however, be used occasionally if you're travelling to a country where the tap water is not safe for drinking.

If you need to use bottled water to prepare a formula feed:

  • Use still water only, never sparkling.
  • It must be boiled before preparing the feed.
  • Check that the seal on the bottle isn't broken.
  • Read the label and check that the sodium (Na) level is lower than 200mg a litre, and that the sulphate (SO or SO4) content isn't any higher than 250mg a litre.