Preparing Bottles in Advance

If you feed your baby formula, you'll soon realise making 6 to 8 individual fresh bottles a day is a monotonous time-consuming task. Unsurprisingly, many time and sleep-deprived parents look for shortcuts to make their lives a little easier. You can make a fresh bottle at correct temperature in less than two minutes with the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine.

Preparing bottles the regular way

Each time you prepare a bottle you are supposed to boil the kettle, wait for it to cool a bit, and then mix hot water with the appropriate amount of formula milk powder. Then you have to wait some more while it cools down to room temperature (you can place the bottle in a jug of refrigerated cold water to speed this up).

This can take quite a lot of planning and a lot of screaming from your hungry baby if you are to get each feed ready at exactly the right time, especially in the middle of the night. And it's not practical if you are going out for the day or leaving your child with someone else.

The problem with storing formula milk

Many parents choose to prepare several bottles of formula in advance and keep them in the fridge, and their babies suffer no ill effects. This is a more practical and convenient way of doing things, but it is not recommended by health professionals or formula manufacturers – they recommend you make up fresh formula feeds as and when they are needed.

This is because powdered formula milk is not sterile and may contain bacteria. When a bottle is made up and left for longer than recommended, the bacteria can multiply to levels that could make your baby ill. The longer formula is stored, the greater the risk of bacterial growth (although bacterial infections from powdered infant formula are rare).

Precautions for preparing bottles in advance

If you make up feeds ahead of time, take the following precautions to minimise the risk to your baby:

Storing formula milk safely

After you have made up the bottles and cooled them, you must make sure they are stored safely. Follow these guidelines:

Re-heating formula milk

To re-warm a cold bottle of formula, you can put it in a bottle warmer (but you may have to wait for around 10 minutes), hold it under a hot tap, or stand it in a jug of warm water until it is lukewarm. A portable bottle warmer may come in handy for when you are out and about. Whatever method you choose, re-warm chilled feeds for a maximum of 15 minutes (to avoid bacteria growth) and always discard unused feeds within two hours (never put them back in the fridge for later).

You can also microwave the bottle for a few seconds. Microwaving is probably the quickest and most convenient option, but the milk may overheat or heat unevenly and burn the baby's mouth. You can eliminate this risk by gently shaking or swirling the milk around in the bottle before feeding it to your baby. You may need to experiment to work out how long the bottle requires warming in the microwave.

Other options for preparing formula milk

Instead of storing made up formula milk in the fridge, you could try these time saving tips:

With all this is mind and a bit of common sense, hopefully you can find a suitable, realistic method to prepare bottles that works for you, but that doesn't compromise the guidelines too much!

Further reading: