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Making formula in advance for your baby

Want to know how to make formula in advance for your baby?

There are a number of situations where you may want to make a bottle in advance so that you don’t have to mix up a bottle that takes up to 30 minutes to prepare. 

Making bottles of formula milk for your baby may feel like a tricky process at first. It can be particularly challenging counting out the number of scoops of powder when you’re feeling sleep deprived!

However you soon get into a routine of making up bottles and it becomes like second nature. 

The advice from the NHS and formula manufacturers is: 

  • Make one bottle of formula at a time. 
  • Prepare each bottle just before feeding to your baby. 

The reason for this is that bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature, so by feeding the formula to baby immediately this reduces any risks. 

However we all know that sometimes it’s not always ideal to make up a bottle for baby by these rules. 

There are various reasons for that, including that you may be out and about or it’s midnight and your baby is screaming with hunger right now. 

There are a few tricks you can use to make up formula in advance for your baby. While preparing the bottles in a advance goes against the NHS best practice advice, I’ve also got some tips for getting around this issue that are within the guidance for formula feeding!

Related post: Bottle feeding hacks

This post contains affiliate links.

How to prepare formula for your baby

You should prepare formula on a surface that has been cleaned and disinfected, using bottles that have been sterilised before use.

Use freshly boiled water that has been taken from the tap to make up the feed. 

This is the NHS guidance for making up a bottle of formula. 

  • Step 1. Fill the kettle with at least one litre of fresh tap water (do not use bottled water). 
  • Step 2. Boil the water and then leave to cool for no more than 30 minutes. 
  • Step 3. Wash your hands. 
  • Step 4. Follow the formula manufacturers’ instructions. Pour the correct amount of water into the bottle (most bottles have lines measuring the amount of fluid) and then add the correct amount of powder. 
  • Step 5. Put the teat and cap onto the bottle and then shake until the powder is dissolved. 
  • Step 6. Check temperature of the formula to make sure it’s not to hot for baby. If it is too hot then hold the bottle, with the lid on, under a cold running tap to cool it. 
  • Step 7. Feed to your baby, double checking the temperature beforehand. 
  • Step 8. Discard any leftover formula after feed. Do not keep and reheat. 

How to prepare formula in advance

The key to preparing formula in advance is to follow the instructions exactly, then cool really fast and store in the fridge ahead of use. 

The NHS is very clear that it recommends you make up one bottle of formula at a time. This is to reduce the risk of bacteria multiplying in the milk over time. 

So if you are going to make formula in advance then do be careful and ensure you are storing the formula in a fridge before you are ready to give the bottle to your baby. 

  • Step 1. Follow the instructions listed above for making a bottle of formula. 
  • Step 2. Place bottle into a bowl filled with ice/cold water to cool it down rapidly. 
  • Step 3. When cool place into the back of your fridge to store it below 5C immediately (do not use the fridge door as this is not cold enough). 
  • Step 4. Use within 24 hours. 
  • Step 5. To warm add the bottle to either a bottle warmer or place in a jug or bowl of warm water. Do not microwave and this may heat the bottle unevenly and the hot formula can burn baby’s mouth. 

Some babies may be perfectly happy to have a bottle of formula milk at room temperature. Others may be a little fussier about having warm milk. 

How to make baby formula when out and about

Whether you’re spending a whole day out of the house or just a few hours, chances are at some point you will need to feed your baby when on the go. 

Here are a few tips for making baby formula when out and about: 

Use pre-made bottles 

The absolute easiest, but not the cheapest, way is to use the pre-made bottles of formula milk. 

They’re ready to drink, so just open the lid, pour into a bottle and away you go!

The cost of feeding your baby with these ready to drink bottles is a lot more than using the formula. 

However I personally found that we only needed to use these once or twice a week and so I was OK with that cost. 

This is also a great option for night feeds as well!

Baby bottle feeding with mama

Measure out formula into small pots 

Rather than transport an entire tub of formula powder around with you simply measure out the exact amount you need for a bottle and take it with you. 

Use small plastic food containers to store the exact amount you need. Alternatively there are specific products on the market to store powdered formula. 

This formula dispenser is a great option as it have different compartments to separate enough formula for three feeds. No need to measure when you’re out and about, just prep before leaving the house and it’s all ready for you to mix up!

When you’re ready to mix up a bottle get some boiled water – assuming you’re at someone else’s home where there’s a kettle or in a restaurant or cafe where staff should happily help you out – and mix up a bottle. 

Be sure to sterilise the container between uses. 

Use cooled, boiled water

If you are going out somewhere where you won’t have access to a kettle so that you can boil up some water then boil water before you leave and transport it in a tight container. 

Then simply add it with your separate formula when you’re ready to make up a bottle for your baby. 

Take hot water with you

This handy flask by Tommee Tippee lets you store hot water when out and about. It will keep water warm for up to four hours, so that you simply need to mix it with formula and you have a bottle ready to go!

Make up a bottle before leaving the house 

The ideal way to make formula for your baby is right before you are going to feed them. 

If this is not possible then you can make up a bottle following the instructions above and then chill it down. Transport it in a insulated bottle pack or a cool bag with ice packs to keep it cold. 

Be sure to use this bottle within 24 hours of when it was first prepared. 

Throw away any pre-prepared formula that you have not used. 

Bonus tip for making up bottles in advance 

Get your hands on a machine that makes up bottles for you! 

These prep machines will product a bottle of formula within minutes at exactly the right temperature for feeding your baby. 

The downsides of them are that they take up space in your kitchen and they cost quite a lot of money. But many formula feeding parents find them a godsend as it means you can make up a fresh bottle to feed baby quickly.  

The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine gets rave reviews from parents (I know several friends who have sworn by theirs). You can check out the price at Amazon here.

You may also like: 101 baby hacks for the first year

How to make bottles of formula in advance for baby

Vicky Smith is a mother of two daughters and a journalist. She has been writing and vlogging about parenting for over five years.