Five Formula Mistakes to Avoid

By Sandra Gordon

To save time, effort or money, these little habits can easily sneak into your baby's formula feeding routine. Don't let them. They can put your baby's health at risk.

Infant Formula Faux Pas:

  1. Putting an unfinished bottle of formula back in the refrigerator for another time. Harmful bacteria from your baby's saliva can travel through the nipple to the formula and multiply in the bottle, possibly making your baby sick.

    Instead: Throw out unfinished infant formula and start fresh. If your baby is likely to consume less than a full bottle, you can pour the amount your baby typically doesn't eat into a clean bottle first and put that bottle in the refrigerator for later. Bottles of formula can keep in the fridge for up to two days. Keep track of freshness by labeling and dating bottles with time and date it was prepared. Instruct caregivers such as nannies, au pairs and grandparents to do the same.

  2. Buying infant formula secondhand. No matter how cheap infant formula is on eBay, Craig's List, from online auctions or at a flea market, pass it up. You don't know what you're getting. The formula could be fine. But yet, counterfeit formula can be illegally relabeled to misrepresent its true content or quality, such as changing the “use by” date. It could happen in the secondhand market.

    Instead: Buy store brand baby formula at mainstream retailers, such as CVS, Target, Sam's Club (Simply Right Formula), Walgreen's, Walmart (Parent's Choice Formula), Kroger and Babies R Us. It's also regionally available at Albertson's, BJs, Bloom, Dominick's, Food Lion, Fred Meyer, Frys, Giant, Hannaford, HEB, HyVee, Meijer, Pamida, Raley's, Ralphs, Randalls, Rite Aid, Safeway, Stater, Stop & Shop, Sweetbay, Tom Thumb, Wegman's and Winn Dixie.

  3. Stretching infant formula by adding extra water. That's a big no-no because diluted formula won't meet your baby's nutritional needs and can cause water intoxication, which is potentially life threatening. No cost savings is worth that risk. Similarly, don't reduce your baby's feedings to save money either. Babies grow faster during their first year than at any other time of life. Reducing feedings can have serious health and developmental consequences.

    Instead: Save by buying store brand formula to save up to 50 percent* compared to the cost of brand-name formula. Follow the preparation directions on the formula package exactly every time.

  4. Buying formula in dented containers. Even if it's being sold at a deep discount, formula in a dented container isn't a good deal because structural damage to the package may allow air to enter, which causes formula to spoil and become unsafe for your baby to consume.

    Instead: Inspect the packaging and put only perfect-looking packages of formula into your shopping cart.

  5. Feeding your baby a bottle of formula that's been lingering in your diaper bag. After preparing infant formula, the clock starts ticking. If the formula hasn't been in the refrigerator or an insulated cooler, you've got an hour to feed it to your baby.

    Instead: Throw away formula that has been at room temperature for more than an hour and make a new batch.

*Total savings with Store Brand Infant Formula based on a price per fl oz comparison of Store Brand Infant Formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from an August 2012 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.


About the Author

Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer, and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's “Make Room for Baby.” A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.

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