Can Babies Drink Cold Formula?

By: Dr. Maria Cerino - February 23, 2024 - 7 Minute Read

Can Babies Drink Cold Formula | The Milky Box

Getting your baby on the perfect formula is a significant milestone in a family's journey. However, formula feeding can come with challenges, and one of the most common ones among parents is related to the temperature of the milk.

In this article, we'll explore the world of formula feeding and cover everything related to the temperature of the milk, including reheating and cold formula. We'll also address common concerns like hot spots and teething to answer your frequently asked questions.

Can Babies Drink Cold Formula? The Truth About Cold Milk for Your Little One

The simple answer is yes. No evidence supports the claim that cold formula can cause any discomfort to your baby. If your baby doesn’t show discomfort and happily finishes their bottles, there is nothing to worry about.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has never stated against feeding your baby at room temperature or cold milk. There are specific steps to ensure solubility and freshness, but there is no associated risk in giving your baby cold milk.

can babies drink cold formula | The Milky Box

What Happens If You Give A Baby Cold Formula?

If your baby was carried to term, there is no known risk in feeding them cold formula. Some articles suggest that the temperature difference might cause muscular contractions, but this varies from baby to baby.

However, premature or low-weight babies require milk to be warmed up, as the temperature change could lower their overall body temperature. Cold milk also requires more energy to be digested, which could cause low-weight babies to struggle to gain weight, even with the right amounts of milk each feeding. Although no conclusive evidence exists, warming the milk for premature or low-weight babies is recommended.

what happens if you give a baby cold formula | The Milky Box

Does Cold Formula Upset the Baby's Stomach?

Some babies can experience temporary cramps when fed cold formula, but this varies greatly depending on their habits and age. If you start them early on cold or room-temperature milk, their body should be used to it. 

If a reaction should occur, it might happen during the first few cold feedings if you decide to make the switch from warm to cold milk.

Does Cold Milk Cause Gas?

The occurrence of gas in a baby can be rarely attributed to the temperature of the milk. It is often related to the formula’s ingredients, feeding position, and technique. It’s always a great idea to follow their cues, such as fuzziness when trying to sleep, distended tummies, and pain to the touch. 

Can Serving Cold Formula Help With Teething Discomfort?

Cold formula can alleviate teething-related pain and discomfort for your baby. It's crucial to note that freezing the formula should be avoided, as this can compromise essential nutrients.

For parents practicing combination feeding, a creative alternative is offering breast milk popsicles as a soothing option. Like wearing braces for the first time, all cool things feel nice and numb obnoxious dental pain.

infant teething | The Milky Box

Baby Bottle Warmer - Is It Necessary?

A baby bottle warmer is an easy, convenient gadget at home. However, it is not a necessity. If you can afford one, it’s a great way to always have warm milk in reach for parents with babies who refuse to drink room-temperature milk.

They’re easy to operate and can help parents have an easier time feeding their babies in the middle of the night. It’s essential to follow all the instructions correctly, as improper heating can cause hot spots that could hurt your baby.

Can You Use Cold Water For Baby Formula?

Powdered infant formulas are generally not sterile, so they can easily get contaminated. Among various harmful bacteria that can contaminate them, Cronobacter species is among the most common. This bacterium has recently caused several formula recalls in the US.

To avoid any potential health risks, it is recommended that the formula should be prepared with water heated up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) to ensure that any bacteria present in the formula are killed before ingestion.

Once you have mixed the formula with warm water, you can cool it down to your baby's preferred temperature before serving. Whether your little one likes it warm, room temperature, or cold, the formula can be adjusted to suit their taste buds.

giving a baby cold formula | The Milky Box

Giving Cold Milk Is Faster

One of the most significant advantages of feeding your baby cold milk is the time it can save you. As a tired, overworked parent, being able to serve bottles on the go or quickly at night can make your life much easier.

Serving a bottle straight from the fridge can be a lifesaver, although it is worth mentioning that it doesn’t take long to heat a bottle.

In these cases, the most important thing to keep in mind is the rules of handling and storing formula:

1. Pre Mixed baby formula should be stored in the fridge and kept in an airtight container

2. Unrefrigerated infant formula should be used within 2 hours of preparation and within one hour from when feeding begins.

3. Throw out any infant formula left in the bottle after feeding your baby. A bottle that has been already used should never be stored, as bacteria from your baby’s mouth could proliferate and cause infection

storing pre-mixed formula | The Milky Box

Your Baby Might Refuse Cold Formula

A big part of giving your baby cold formula is trial and error. Some babies are very used to feeding on warm breast milk. When making that switch, they can miss the temperature of both the nipple and the milk.

This is normal. You can try warming the bottle’s nipple by running it under some warm water before feeding it to simulate the warmth of the human breast.

Nevertheless, if you’ve tried a few times and your baby still refuses to drink, it might just be a personal preference, and in that case, your best bet might be to serve your little ones bottles warm.

Avoiding The Risk Of Overheated Milk

The most important thing to remember when warming up baby formula or breast milk is to warm it up gradually.

You should never use a microwave, as this can cause hot spots that could potentially burn your baby’s delicate skin inside their mouth. Warming up should either be done by placing the sealed bottle on a bowl full of warm water and waiting a few minutes so it gets to temperature or running it under a tap, running warm water. 

It should never be hot, much less to the point where holding the bottle with your bare fingers is uncomfortable.

Can Formula Be Reheated?

Parents often express significant concerns when it comes to reheating baby formula. This is possible, but there are specific rules you must follow:

1. It should never be reheated in a microwave

2. You must follow the safety guidelines

3. Never reheat a bottle your baby has already been fed from

4. Premixed formula can only be reheated in the first 24 hours after mixing it

5. Prepared formula should be used 2 hours after reheating it

If you’d like a more comprehensive approach to all things formula safety and reheating, there is a wonderful article on the milky blog that will ease all your worries.

can you reheat baby formula | The Milky Box

How To Use Formula On The Go

In this fast-paced world, you will need to learn to have some milk ready in your bag if you’ll be out for longer than two hours. Following these tips can ensure your formula will be free of any bacteria:

● Pack a double-insulated thermos full of hot water: This will ensure the water stays up to the target temperature when ready to prepare it.

● Measure out the formula powder in an airtight container.

● Prepare the formula as you would at home.

If your baby prefers cold formula, bring a cool bottle in an insulated bag and offer it when needed.

baby formula on the go | The Milky Box

In Conclusion…

The temperature of your baby's milk is subjective and may vary from baby to baby. Each baby has their preferences regarding the temperature of their milk. We suggest trying different temperatures to determine what suits your little one best.

At every stage and aspect of your baby's feeding journey, The Milky Box has nutritious options and family guidance to support you through the toddler years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the nutritional value of the formula the same regardless of its temperature?

The temperature at which the formula is served does not influence its nutritional content. Whether served cold or warm, the formula retains the essential nutrients for your baby's growth and development. 

However, ensuring that the water used to prepare the formula cools to 70°C (158°F) before mixing is vital. Temperatures exceeding this threshold can potentially compromise the nutritional quality of the formula.

Is it okay to serve cold formula when weaning off breastfeeding?

Yes. There is nothing inherently harmful about serving your infant cold formula after breastfeeding. As long as they accept it, they should be okay.

Does ready-to-feed formula need to be warm?

Not at all! The ready-made formula is designed to be served directly from the bottle at room temperature. If your baby prefers, place the bottle in a bowl of warm water or hold it under a warm running tap to warm it up. 

How long can I keep the formula once it’s prepared?

The answer to this question depends on the conditions in which the formula has been kept: formula kept at room temperature should be discarded after two hours of exposure. 

The formula that has been kept in a cooler or cool bag can last up to four hours before being tossed out, and lastly, formula that has been stored in the refrigerator right after preparation and has not been touched is good to drink for 24 hours.


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Dr. Maria Cerino is a medical doctor and a researcher from Mexico, her works being published in prestigious journals like the American Journal of Human Biology among others. As a medical writer, Dr. Cerino focuses on infant nutrition and healthy neurological development in infants and children. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, watching indie films, and cooking at home.

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Reviewed by Dr. Eric Wood, ND, MA

Dr. Wood is a licensed naturopathic doctor, with a doctorate degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada. He received his post-graduation certification in Mind Body Medicine at Harvard University.

With 15 years of experience, Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Holistic Nutrition at the American College of Health Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Wood is an educator, clinician, author, media figure, consultant, and owns his own holistic (naturopathic) medical practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Wood is currently researching and drafting books on cancer and pediatrics.

Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Wood loves singing with the Miami Lyric Opera and is an avid musician in South Florida. He also loves spending time with his wife and kids.