Is it ok to store leftover bottles of formula in refrigerator?

[deleted account] ( 18 moms have responded )

I read that you are supposed to throw away any leftover formula, however, my daycare puts leftover formula in the refrigerator to give him later. I just learned that they do that last week and am a little concerned. My baby has not had any issues and was wondering if anyone else re-offers the same bottle later? It would be great to save on formula cost, but the health of my baby comes first. What do you know about this topic?

Thank you!


Kim - posted on 07/11/2012




According to several sources, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization, here's the consensus:

1.) Formula can be prepared UP TO 24 hours ahead of time, if it is refrigerated the entire time.

2.) It should be prepared with tepid (room temperature) water. If you wish to sterilize the water, boil it for 5 mins, then cool to room temp before mixing. Any warmer than this, and you risk breaking down all the good bacteria and macrobiotics in the milk - this is also true for expressed breast milk.

3.) If you cannot refrigerate the formula, it can be stored at room temperature for 2 hours at the most.

4.) If that nipple enters your baby's mouth AT ALL, anything, be it breast milk or formula, must be used within 1 hour. Anything that is still left should be thrown out. This is incredibly important. My best friend's daycare provider also reused bottles on her LO... He was six months old when he came down with a bacterial infection that put him into the hospital for three weeks.

In addition to potential illnesses that can be contracted, because the bottles are a perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria once they've met your LO's saliva, you also run the risk of serious tooth decay. Bacterial infections don't always show up in well-baby visits, and no mother wants or needs the guilt of harming her baby all for the sake of saving a few cents on an ounce or two of formula.

I'm a frugal mom (my DH lovingly calls me cheap). Dumping large quantities of formula down the drain has always just made me cringe. To prevent this, if you are at home, make up the bottles 2 oz at a time. As long as your local water treatment is trustworthy, you are fine with tepid tap water. If it's suspect, purchase distilled water from the grocery. And please, always get your daycare provider on board. If she/he refuses, it's time to shop for new daycare.

By the way: For out and about, I love LOVE the ready-made formulas. They're a huge time saver, and really not that much more expensive than powder, particularly if you are only using them on the weekends, etc. For shorter trips, or when I know we are going somewhere that has refrigeration readily available, Medela makes wonderful 2 oz breastmilk tubes. They also work brilliantly for making 2 oz servings ahead of time. This way, you can pull out a few tubes when you get ready to feed, and just dump more into the bottle if baby's still hungry (Anything added within that original 1 hour is fine, per not 1 but 3 pediatricians) - or re-refrigerate if she's not. Minimizes waste, you don't have a screaming, starving little one, and you never have to debate over whether the risk is worth saving the money.

Last recommendation, simply because this way you never risk breaking down all those wonderful nutrients... Teach your baby that anything that comes out of a bottle will be cold. This way you don't have to worry about finding a way to warm while out and about. Cold milk will not negatively impact your kiddo in any way whatsoever. On the other hand, improperly heated milk can be absolutely devastating - you run the risk of killing EVERYTHING in the milk, including all the good stuff that helps baby develop. This training may take a couple tries before it sticks, however. You could get a rather irritable little one, depending on how long you've been warming bottles. Just a fair warning. Stick with it. :)

SusieQ - posted on 09/17/2012




Leftover formula can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 hours after having been warmed to feed.

Proud - posted on 09/21/2011




I do not reheat formula for my daughter. I don't care if she takes 1 sip and then doesn't want anymore. It gets thrown out and a fresh one made for next time.

Hayley - posted on 01/13/2011




It says to throw it out after an hour, but when my daughter was born we were in hospital for 3 months and they would make all the formula in advance and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours! I did the same once I got home and my little girl is happy healthy and had no adverse affects from me doing this!

Alexandra - posted on 09/09/2012




no, it is not ok. Do not let them do it, even if the baby is ok for now, you don't know what repercussions this will have in the digestive system the future.


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Clarice - posted on 07/30/2012




It's probably best to tell your daycare to throw away leftover formula. It does say right on the formula container to do this, I am surprised that a daycare would not follow those instructions. And they probably should have told you that they do this. You should instead ask them to not make such big amounts. If they know that your baby typically takes a certain amount, have them prepare just that much and see if baby is satisfied. If baby wants more then they can make another ounce or two. I know that this is a hassle for them, but it's your baby and your baby's health is being risked every time they reuse formula.

Nicky - posted on 01/13/2011




depends on how old your baby is too i think, ive only just gone to formula and if my 8mth old doesnt finish it i refridgerate and give to her but only if i know she will have it later in the new few hours, there is probably a bit of bacteria from their saliva but im sure her immune system will be strong enough, no probs as yet. My advice is to go with your gut, if you are not comfortable with what they do, you can ask them not to, and if they continue to do so then I would have issues with them not respecting your opinion! Good luck with whatever you choose :)

Shauna - posted on 01/13/2011




I think its actually the saliva from your babies mouth that contaminates it. If the bottles are pre-made and babys mouth has not touched it i dont think theres a prob with that, Its just when your baby has ate from the bottle then you put it back.

Shauna - posted on 01/08/2011




It says on the label to throw out after an hr. I always throw it out once its been used and hasnt been finished. I actually pulled my son out of daycare, b/c they continued to re-use the formula after many times of me asking them not to.

[deleted account]

We throw the fomula away if there is any left in his bottle. My health visitor said it is ok to keep out up to 2 hours after making it but then you should throw it away

Talea - posted on 09/08/2010




I've had 4 kiddos, last one is 8 months now. I re-offer the same bottle once within a few hours now that she's getting a litte bigger. However as a small infant I never reoffered and usually only made a couple ounces at one sitting.

Lucy - posted on 09/04/2010




It absolutely gets filled full of BAD bacteria. Please ask them to throw the formula away, it's not worth your child's health.

[deleted account]

From all the articles I have read to talking to nurses and my pediatrician they all say throw it away because the formula gets tons of bacteria. I would only re-offer the bottle if used 2 hours after no longer. If you decide to continue what you are doing I would talk to your daycare and let them know you don't like to keep a bottle after 2 hours.

Jamie-lee - posted on 09/02/2010




i was told it was ok as long as its not in the fridge 2 long n u only re-heat once my boy was 6 weeks premature n the nurses in the nursery told me that my boy is now 3 almost 4 n i used 2 do it 4 him n nothing happened 2 him

Adhrua - posted on 08/30/2010




We never offered leftover formula to my baby ...I guess it makes sense to check with the baby's doc.

best regards,


[deleted account]

With my daughter we did "re-offer" our baby her bottle of formula. She didn't start on formula exclusively until about 7 months and we would just re-offer it to her if we tried and she didn't want much or if she only ate for a few minutes. Otherwise we didn't. I have known people who give there kids a bottle of formula and let them walk around the house with it, but these are only older kids. If its not making him sick either start making smaller bottles for him or re-offer it to him within reason.

September - posted on 08/27/2010




It's recommend that you throw away any leftover formula. There's a chance bacteria may have formed since the last feeding, which could make your baby sick. The longest we would ever let our son’s formula sit would be about 20 minutes or so.

Marcia - posted on 08/27/2010




i have always thrown left over formula away. My husband would keep it for a bit after it was suppose to be thrown out and i found that my son would spit up like curdled formula not a lot but it was kind of nasty so i just throw it out. however i'm the parent that feeds my son cold formula but never refridgerate and reuse it

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