How Long Can Formula Sit Out?

By: Suzanne Renee'  - February 12, 2024 - 7 Minute Read

How Long Can Formula Sit Out? | The Milky Box

Caring for a baby and formula feeding can be time-consuming. Babies require frequent feedings, and their small stomachs can only hold a limited amount of formula. While it may be tempting to prepare a large batch of formula and store it for a few days, it's crucial to follow safety guidelines when making formulas.

One of these guidelines is that the prepared formula should be discarded after an hour. Any unused formula mixed with water should not be kept for later use. It's essential to know how long the formula is suitable to ensure that your baby is not consuming expired formula, which can cause health problems. 

This article will detail the importance of following safety guidelines when preparing formula for your baby.

After Preparation, How Long Can Baby Formula Sit Out at Room Temperature?

Suppose you plan to switch from breastfeeding to infant formula for your baby. In that case, it is imperative to understand that the storage recommendations for formula will differ from those of breast milk.

One of the most significant differences is the duration for which the formula can be set at room temperature. Knowing the basics of formula storage would be helpful, including how long it can be left out before it becomes unsuitable for consumption.

When In Doubt, Toss Unused Formula After 1 Hour at Room Temp

Different organizations offer varying recommendations on how long freshly prepared formula can be kept at room temperature before it becomes unsuitable for consumption if unused.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that any formula kept at room temperature for over an hour should be discarded. However, they state that formula that has been out for less than an hour can be stored safely in the refrigerator.

On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that formula can be consumed safely if it has not been outside the refrigerator for more than two hours. They also recommend storing it in the fridge if it has been out for less than two hours.

European Baby Formula: Room Temperature Recommendations

It is important to note that European baby formula manufacturers advise using infant formula that has not been touched or heated within 2 hours of being left at room temperature. 

Considering this, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the top European brands and their specific recommendations to help you make an informed decision.

Room Temperature Recommendations | The Milky Box

If Your Baby Drank from The Bottle, Throw Away Leftover Formula

After preparing and feeding your baby with formula, it is crucial to dispose of any remaining milk left in the bottle. This is important because your baby's mouth contains different bacteria, which can contaminate the milk and provide an ideal breeding ground for harmful germs.

To ensure your baby's health and safety, throw away any leftover milk and thoroughly wash and sanitize the bottle before using it again.

Avoid Bacteria Contamination | The Milky Box

How Long Does the Prepared Formula Last In The Fridge?

It is possible to make powdered formula in advance and keep it in the refrigerator for convenience. However, it is essential to note that the safety zone for storing premade formula may vary depending on the brand and type of formula.

While most European formulas have a safety zone of 24 hours, some may have a shorter time frame. Therefore, seeking advice from your qualified medical provider before preparing and storing premade formulas is crucial. They will be able to provide you with specific recommendations and safety protocols that must be followed to ensure the health and safety of your child.

Refrigerator Storage Recommendations | The Milky Box

How Long Does Unopened Baby Formula last?

Proper storage of infant formula is crucial to ensure its freshness and safety. It is recommended to carefully follow the instructions provided on the package for the best results.

Families can begin by storing infant formula outside or in a hot car, which can harm its quality and safety. Storing it in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources, is essential. By storing infant formula correctly, you can ensure your baby gets the best nutrition possible.

Does Baby Formula Powder Expire after Opening?

Powdered formulas come with a minimum of six-month shelf life before they expire, provided they have not been opened. However, it is essential to note that once the container is opened, the formula will expire much earlier than the expiration date mentioned on the package.

European baby formula brands have different recommendations on how long their products can be safely used, depending on the nutrients and manufacturing process. To make sure that you are following the most recent guidelines, it is advisable to consult your medical provider and the formula manufacturer for information on the shelf life of both opened and unopened containers.

Shelf Life of European Baby Formula | The Milky Box

Do Not Refrigerate and Throw Out Your Formula If? 

When bottle-feeding your baby, it is essential to keep in mind a few key points to ensure their health and safety:

1. If your baby does not finish the formula, it is essential to discard any leftovers within an hour of preparation to prevent any bacterial growth that could cause illness.

2. If you have already warmed up the bottle, using it within an hour of starting the feeding process is crucial, as warm environments can foster bacterial growth.

3. It is always best to prepare bottles before feeding your baby, rather than in advance, to ensure freshness and avoid any potential spoilage.

4. It is essential to check the expiration date of your formula container and label carefully to ensure that you provide your baby with the best and most nutritious food possible.

What You Should Know About Formula Safety

When it comes to feeding your baby with infant formula, it is essential to keep in mind that although the quality of the formula is highly regulated and monitored, proper preparation routines must still be followed to ensure your baby's health.

- Use prepared, refrigerated formula within 24 hours.

- Always read the label for specific instructions.

- Refrigerate unused formula within an hour of mixing.

- Discard any leftover formula from a bottle your baby drank from.

- Heat bottles safely and never in the microwave.

- Do not use a formula past its expiration date.

Baby Formula Safety | The Milky Box

Is European Baby Formula Safe?   

Preparing infant formula may initially feel overwhelming due to the many rules and regulations. However, it is essential to remember that you are supporting your baby's delicate digestive system. With time, making your infant's formula will become easier.

The Milky Box's European baby formulas are delivered straight to your doorstep and have an expiration date of at least six months for our US customers. Our formula is designed to meet the nutritional needs of your baby's growth and lifestyle, ensuring that all their digestive needs are adequately satisfied.


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.

Suzanne Renee' is an accomplished professional with extensive expertise in the area of infant nutrition, dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of children. She started this journey as a foster parent. Suzanne has emerged as a strong proponent of the European baby formula and has become a full time writer of the subject. In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking and going to church.

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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.