How to Prepare Concentrated Infant Formula

The first thing you should do is to ensure that you have concentrated infant formula. This is usually sold in cans and is a liquid. You may store it in the original container or decant it into another airtight storage container to preserve freshness.

Improperly prepared formula could cause malnutrition and illness in infants, making the preparation stage a very important component of feeding your baby. It can be easy to misread or assume that all formulas are alike, this is why it is good to read the instructions with every new can to ensure that you are mixing the formula and water in the right amounts for a proper nutritional experience for your baby.


What Type of Infant Formula Do You Have?

Woman's hand spooning out infant formula into a baby bottle

Image Source/Getty Images

Before you prepare your baby's infant formula, you need to ensure a few things to safely prepare it:

  • That it is infant formula and not a toddler version. The nutrients are different.
  • You need to know which type of formula you have:
  • Ready-to-feed
  • Concentrated
  • Powdered
  • That you have all of the supplies you will need.

Once you have determined that you have the right formula and the right supplies it is time to prepare the baby bottle and the infant formula to be fed to the baby.


Concentrated Formula Supplies

With concentrated formula, first, you will wash off the top of the can. Then, using a clean can opener, you will use the can opener to poke a hole in the top of the can. Then place an additional hole across from the original for ease of pouring.

Be sure that the formula instructions say to add water before adding water. Usually, you can tell because concentrated formula looks really dark and is very thick. Gather a baby bottle, the formula and something with which to measure liquid (water). Many people simply use another clean bottle to measure fluids, but it can be anything with appropriate fluid measurements on it.

Remember that measuring incorrectly can make your baby sick. Getting too much formula can cause gastrointestinal distress. Getting too much water means that the formula is cut with more water than necessary. This may mean that your baby is not getting enough calories or nutrients and if this were to continue, it may make your baby ill.

Frequently using more water than necessary is a step that parents use in order to use less formula, as a cost-savings measure. This is risky because your baby will not feel full and will suffer from nutrient deficiencies.

Be sure to check for local and national programs to help assist you in securing more formula for your baby. A great example is the national Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program that is administered locally.


Measuring the Formula

Typically the instructions will call for equal amounts of concentrated formula and water. Though you should check the instructions on the packaging. Be sure to use appropriate temperature water when doing this step to ensure a comfortable temperature for your baby. You may want to use filtered water or water that you have boiled to ensure that you have removed contaminants from the water. 

For some infants and families, this will be more important. Be sure to check for boil water advisories in your area or know if your baby has special needs that require a higher level of sanitation in the water choice.


Pouring the Formula Together

Once you have the appropriate amounts of formula and water, you can add the two together in the bottle in which you intend to use to feed your baby. It does not matter if you add the water to the formula or the formula to the water.


Finishing Concentrated Formula

When you have poured the water and formula together you can add the nipple and nipple collar and feed your baby.

With the concentrated formula, you can either mix the entire can up to be fed over the course of the day or you can place the opened can back in the refrigerator for use again later. Check the can to see how long the formula is good after you have opened it, it will vary.

1 Source
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  1. Spalinger J, Nydegger A, Belli D, et al. Growth of Infants Fed Formula with Evolving Nutrition Composition: A Single-Arm Non-Inferiority Study. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):219. doi:10.3390/nu9030219

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.