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How do I mix and serve infant formula for my baby?

Amy Lynn Stockhausen, MD, FAAP


​For parents who formula feed their baby, the process can take a littlfiguring out. Here are some tips to help you.  

Mixing Formula 101  

  • Ready-to-feed. This type of formula comes as a pre-mixed liquid. Be sure to shake it before serving to mix in any mineral contents that may have settled. There is no need to add water. 

  • Liquid concentrate. This type requires mixing with an equal amount of water before serving it to your baby. Be sure to shake well before mixing it with water to blend the ingredients. 

  • Powder. With this formula, simply mix 1 level unpacked scoop with 2 ounces of water, then shake or stir to blend. You should only use the scoop that comes with the container. Different brands, and a variety of types within the same brand, will have different-sized scoops specific to the product. 

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Formula with too much water added doesn’t contain enough of the nutrients babies need. This can slow their growth and development. Watered down formula also can interfere with a baby’s balance of electrolytes—salts and minerals the body needs to function—and cause seizures 

Formula Serving Safety  ​​

When giving your baby formula, make sure it is clean, safe, and warm. 

  • Clean. Formula should be fed from clean bottles with clean nipples. For most healthy, full-term infants, it is not necessary to sterilize bottles or nipples, especially if they are washed in a dishwasher. Anyone preparing formula for the baby should wash their hands first and make the formula in a clean environment.   

  • Safe. Potable (this means drinkable) water must be used. Most municipal tap water is safe, but use cold water from the faucet. Warm tap water may contain softener salt that can pull impurities from pipes. Water from a well should be tested every year to make sure it is free of harmful bacteria or chemicals like nitrate. If bacteria in water is a concern in your communitybring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute and then cool it to room temperature before usingBottled water also can be used to make formula.   

  • Warm. It’s best to warm formula for infants under 6 months oldbecause they aren’t yet able to regulate body temperate well. After mixing, a bottle may be warmed up with a bottle warmer or by holding it under warm running tap water. Or, placit in a container of warm water for 5-10 minutes. ​Never microwave formula. Microwaving can affect ingredients in formula and cause hot spots in the liquid that can burn your baby’s mouth. After warming, test the formula by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist; it should feel warm but not hot. Older babies may not have a preference and take room temperature formula just fine. 


If you have questions, don't keep them bottled up! Talk with your pediatrician about any questions or concerns you have about feeding your baby.

Editor's Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. When you add solid foods to your baby's diet, continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months. You can continue to breastfeed after 12 months if you and your baby desire. Check with your child's doctor about the recommendations for vitamin D and iron supplements during the first year.

Additional Information from  

Amy Lynn Stockhausen, MD, FAAP

​​​Amy Lynn Stockhausen, MD, FAAP, is a Clinical Associate Professor of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. After 15 years practicing full-spectrum rural pediatric medicine and engaging in both clinical and administrative physician leadership, she has recently re-entered academic medicine. She is a member of the Wisconsin State Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

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American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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