Most new parents experience exhaustion in one way or another. At midnight, when your baby calls for a bottle, they sometimes fall asleep mid-meal. On the other hand, you sleepily put the bottle down and fall asleep yourself for what feels like 5 minutes. However, waking up, you realize it had been hours. Seeing the unfinished bottle, you might be thinking, how long can you leave a baby bottle out?
It is just one scenario where a formula question might come to your mind, on top of other questions you might have as a new parent. So if formula rules leave you scratching your head, you’re not alone. Keep reading, and hopefully, you’ll be able to get the answer on your question on how long can you leave a baby bottle out.
How Long Does A Baby Bottle Stay Good at Room Temperature?
Once you mix water and formula milk to feed your sweet baby, the countdown on how long can you leave a baby bottle out begins ticking. As a rule of thumb, the bottle will last for 2 hours at room temperature when untouched and unheated.
However, do check the label instructions since it might differ depending on the brand. It may depend on whether the manufacturer is in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Trusted Source guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does expressed breastmilk last?
The time an expressed breast milk lasts depends on the storage method. Here are the general guidelines for healthy infants:
- Room temperature – Expressed breast milk kept at room temperature can last for up to six hours. However, it’s recommended to properly store the breast milk within four hours, especially if the temperature is warm.
- Insulated cooler – Breast milk can be kept in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to one day.
- Refrigerator – Freshly expressed breast milk can be frozen for up to five days in clean conditions. However, it’s best to use or freeze the milk within three days.
- Deep freezer – You can use a deep freezer to store freshly pumped breast milk for up to 12 months, but use the frozen milk within six months to ensure your baby still gets the same amount of nutrients.
Some research suggests that keeping breast milk, whether in the refrigerator or the freezer, increases the loss of vitamin C in the milk. Breast milk also changes to meet your baby’s needs. So the breast milk expressed when a baby is a newborn won’t completely meet the same baby’s needs a few months after.
Does bottle milk last longer when refrigerated?
The answer is yes, as long as your baby doesn’t drink directly from the bottle.
An unused bottle of formula milk can last up to 24 hours when refrigerated. Some parents opt to make larger batches of formula in the morning and portion them out into bottles for use throughout the day, especially when you have a crying baby who doesn’t want to wait for you to finish mixing a bottle.
However, your fridge temp should only be 40°F (4.4°C) or lower. It’s not recommended that you freeze the formula. It can alter the texture and doesn’t extend the time during which the formula is still safe. If you’re new to bottle feeding, it’s essential to know the guidelines since the storage of formula milk is different from that of breast milk.
How long does milk formula last once the container is opened?
Generally, you should finish powdered formula within a month after opening the container. It is the standard guideline on labels for popular brands as well as organic alternatives. It shouldn’t be a problem since little ones typically have an insatiable appetite.
How long does unopened formula last?
Fortunately, you don’t have to guess or remember when you bought the formula to know how long it will last. A sealed container of formula, whether concentrate, powder, or ready-to-drink, will always have an expiration date, and in most cases, this is printed on the bottom part of the packaging.
The powdered formulas available at your local store have expiration dates more than a year away. So if you find yourself with unopened containers after transitioning off to formula, you’ll have enough supplies to last long.
Remember to store sealed containers in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures.
“When it doubt, dump it out” is a good general rule to follow. Once you’ve made your baby’s formula and ask how long can you leave a baby bottle out, it’s recommended to use it immediately. Leaving the milk out for too long means that there is a risk of contamination and harmful bacteria growth. When your baby finished a feed, throw away any remaining milk.
However, if you prepare a feed and your baby isn’t hungry yet, you can keep the formula at room temperature for a maximum of two hours. Beyond this time, you throw the milk away and prepare a fresh one for your next feed.
It’s best always to make a fresh bottle of formula for your baby every feeding time, rather than preparing it ahead and refrigerating it. Even if you keep it in refrigerated, bacteria can still form in the milk. Get more tips on baby bottles.
All the rules about formula and breastmilk storage can seem a little daunting, but remember it’s your baby’s health you’re dealing with; thus, these guidelines suddenly become incredibly workable. Getting the hang of how much your baby eats can come naturally, so you can decrease or even eliminate the amount of formula that ends up down the drain.
As a new parent, you might have a ton of questions, and there may be times that you doubt yourself. However, keep in mind that babies are unique individuals, and only the parents know what’s best for them. But, always remember some guidelines regarding typical questions like how long can you leave a baby bottle out. Doing so will keep you away from a lot of hassles in the future.