• What is the safest option for feeding babies?

Breast milk is the safest way to feed a baby. For more information on Breast feeding please click the image.

If you have chosen to use infant formula milk "Ready to Use" liquid feeds are sterile until opened and are the safest option to use. Powdered infant formula is not sterile and should be made using water that is hotter than 70° C.



  • Why is powdered infant formula not sterile?

The bacteria Enterobactersakazakiiis ubiquitous in the environment and may contaminate powdered infant formula whilst the powder is being put into the tins by manufacturers. It is impossible to be sure of avoiding this contamination. The bacteria may also be present on work surfaces in homes and nurseries and can contaminate feeds while they are being prepared by parents or carers.

  • Why should the water be 70 degrees centigrade?

Water at 70° C will kill most of the bacteria present in the powdered formula. This is the most important step in making up powdered infant formula as powdered infant formula cannot be guaranteed to be free of bacteria.

  • Why should made up formula be cooled quickly?

Bacteria multiply most quickly between 7 and 65° C. The longer formula is at this temperature, the greater the increase in the bacterial content and so the risk of infection for the baby will increase.

  • Why should storage times of made up formula be minimised?

Even when formula is made up with water at more than 70° C it may still contain some bacteria which will continue to multiply during storage. At less than 5° C the rate of multiplication of the bacteria will reduce but will not completely cease.

  • How long can made up formula be stored in a fridge?

Made up formula can be stored for a maximum of 24 hours but this is no longer considered ideal particularly for young babies because the bacterial content continues to increase during storage. This increases the risk of infection for the baby.

  • Once a feed is ready for feeding, how long before it should be discarded?

Discard any feed that has not been used within 2 hours. All left-over feed should be discarded and never saved for later.

  • If you are out and cannot boil water how do you make up a feed?

Mothers should be advised to fill a vacuum flask with boiling water. If the flask is full and sealed the water will stay above 70° C for several hours. This flask can be safely transported and used to make up a feed when necessary.

  • Do vacuum flasks need to be sterilised if they are used to store boiled water for making up a feed later?

No, the vacuum flasks do not need to be sterilised but they should be washed thoroughly and rinsed with boiling water before being filled with boiling water intended for the feed. The boiling water should kill bacteria present in the vacuum flask.

  • If water is boiled and put into the sterilised feeding bottles can it be stored in the fridge like this until the powder is added?

No, the water must be above 70° C when the powder is added otherwise the bacteria in the powder will not be killed.