Prepare, handle and store your baby’s formula safely

There are many opportunities for germs to cause illness when preparing baby's bottle. Here are some ways to ensure a healthy baby.

As new parents we want to do the best we can to assure the health of our baby. This includes preparing and handling our baby’s food. Here are some easy steps to ensure health.

Wash your hands.
The very first step to assuring your baby’s food is safe is to wash your own hands. Washing your hands before you prepare your baby’s food is a key activity to preventing the spread of germs and bacteria you may have been in contact with. A baby’s immune system is not fully developed, thus they are at high risk of contracting foodborne illnesses and other sicknesses. Also, remember to prepare your baby’s food and bottles on clean surfaces.

Follow package directions.
When preparing your baby’s formula, always follow the package’s directions for reconstituting the formula. Adding too little formula will not give your baby the proper amount of nutrients for their growth and development. Water should not be added to ready to eat formulas. Be sure to ask your pediatrician if you should boil your water before using it for the formula. Your local water quality will determine if you should first boil the water or if you should purchase water for the formula.

Clean all bottles and parts.
Always clean the bottle and nipple before each use. You can either wash them in hot soapy water or place them in a dishwasher.

Warm the breastmilk or formula properly.
Once you have properly cleaned and prepared your baby’s bottle and formula, many parents like to warm the formula before they feed it to their infant. To do this safely, place the bottle in a pan of hot water or into a bottle warmer. Never warm the baby’s formula or breastmilk in the microwave. The microwave heats unevenly and may leave hot spots which could scald the baby. The microwave can also create the leaching of chemicals from the bottle or liners into the formula if you are using a plastic bottle or latex nipple.

Feed your little one.
Once the formula is made it is important to immediately feed it to your baby or store it in the refrigerator. Formula and breastmilk should not be left out on the counter. Any leftovers should be discarded within one hour. Naturally occurring bacteria from our baby’s mouth will multiply in the nutrient rich formula or breastmilk. If not discarded, these bacteria can lead to a foodborne illness in your infant.

Provide a bottle only when it is time to eat.
The practice of putting a baby to bed with a bottle can lead to baby-bottle tooth decay which is painful and difficult to treat. It can also cause problems for the permanent teeth. Do not allow your baby carry their bottles around with them. This can lead to drinking too much and sharing with other young children in the home. This easily spreads infections between the children.

Remember, it is important to start with clean hands, clean surfaces, and clean equipment to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. Prepare your formula based upon the manufacturer’s recommendations to assure proper nutrition. And when the baby is done feeding, discard all remaining formula or breastmilk to prevent future foodborne illnesses. A healthy baby is a happy baby!

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