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How to Tell if Powdered Formula is Bad?

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For a long time, mothers have been using baby formula to feed their children.

The baby formula provides children with the necessary nutrition and it can be used exclusively or alongside breastfeeding

However, there is more to know when it comes to buying, preparing, and storing baby formula to ensure that it is safe and meets your child’s nutritional needs.

This is true for powdered formula, which can go bad after a while and it may be unfit for the use of babies.

Wondering how to tell if powdered formula is bad? Here is a guide to help answer your question.

How to Tell if Powdered Formula is Bad?

A common question that most parents ask is how to tell if powdered formula is bad.

A package of powdered formula usually has an expiry date written on it and it’s important to adhere to that date.

The expiry date of the powdered formula is indicated on the bottom of the tin can, on top of the lid, on a cap located on the inside of the formula, or even on a labeled piece of paper.

However, if you unintentionally fail to see the expiry date, it is advisable not to feed your baby the powdered formula.

In many scenarios, mothers may use a powdered formula right before expiration.

The powdered formula usually has a lifespan of about one year when it is left on the shelf.

Below are signs of how to tell if powdered formula iterrible;

  • If the powdered formula has an unpleasant smell and flavor.
  • When the powdered formula has signs of agglutination.
  • When the ingredients in the formula begin to separate.
  • Clumping.
  • After ingesting the powdered formula, the baby may refuse to take the bottle.

When you accidentally buy powdered formula that has expired, you can exchange it at the store where you bought it.

However, it is important to note that different retailer shops have varying exchange policies for powered formulas.

Nevertheless, most shops can agree to an exchange provided that the can has not been opened and you can prove that it had already expired when you bought it.

1. Can Expired Powdered Formula Make Your Baby Sick?

Often, expired baby formula has less to do with food safety and more to do with nutrients in the formula.

With an expired powdered formula, the nutrients are more likely to degrade and may not meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

Besides, the formula will clump and become susceptible to bacteria growth.

In some instances, some babies may get sick and get symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

It can make them prone to foodborne illnesses and in other cases, poisoning.

You may also want to watch out for signs like a fever as this indicates that the condition is severe.

If the condition is not severe, your baby will likely recover when the formula is flushed out of their system.

2. Safe Preparation of Powdered Formula                                                        

Now that you know how to tell if a powdered formula is bad, it helps to know how to properly prepare powdered formula. 

This is because this type of formula is usually influenced by how it is prepared.

Proper preparation of powdered formula is essential to help prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from entering the milk.

Here are tips on how to properly prepare powdered formula;

  • When buying baby formula, always check the expiration date to ensure that it is not outdated.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling the bottles or nourishing the baby. You should also clean the area where you will do the mixing.
  • Thoroughly wash the bottles before using them. If it’s your first time using the bottles, nipples, rings, or caps, ensure that you sterilize using a microwave steam sterilize bag, an electric steam sterilizer, or by boiling in hot water for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully measure the formula and the water you will use.
  • You can give your baby formula that is cold or at room temperature. However, warmth is ideal

3. Storage Practices of Powdered Formula

Proper storage of powdered formula can help extend its shelf life. On the other hand, poor storage practices can increase the chances of powdered formula getting spoiled, which can be dangerous for your child.

Below are ways in which the powdered formula can be stored to extend its shelf-life;

  • Keep the formula in a cool dark place
  • Store the prepared formula in a fridge if it has not been fed to the baby within two hours.
  • The unopened powdered formula should be kept in a cool, dry place to prevent the microorganisms from growing.
  • The opened powdered formula should not be kept in the fridge. However, it should be stored by a person in a cool, dry place, and the tin should be as tight as possible.
  • Always use the opened powdered formula within the time indicated on the package. If not, ensure that you throw it away.

4. Harmless Powdered Formula Feeding Tips

Most mothers find it extremely hard to feed their children at night. This is why they prepare the bottles early.

All that’s needed is to warm the formula and nourish the child.

Below are some of the best feeding tips for powdered formula;

  • To avoid wasting the powdered formula, only use the required formula.
  • The powdered formula should be stored in a dry place far from the reach of children. This storage method helps to preserve essential nutrients of the baby formula.
  • Avoid freezing the baby formula.
  • Use the appropriate water and formula ratio when mixing powdered formula. Otherwise, too much water can deprive your child of the necessary nutrition while too little water can cause dehydration.

Learn more from a different post: What To Do With Expired Baby Formula


 We hope that this article has been useful in answering your questions on how to tell if powdered formula is bad.

The last thing any mother wants is to give their child bad or expired formula. 

Once you realize that your formula is bad or is outdated, throw it away since it is unfit for use.  

Ensure that you follow all the safety rules when it comes to buying, preparing, storing, and feeding your child powdered baby formula.

It is also important to note that the powdered formula should be kept in a cool and dry place, far away from the reach of children.

In case of any issue, don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a prepared bottle good for if refrigerated?

The best way microbial growth can be avoided while preparing the powdered formula is to prepare it earlier.

If prepared earlier, it can be stored in the refrigerator for about twenty-four hours before it goes bad.

Can I save leftover powdered formula in a bottle after feeding?

It is usually not advisable to save powdered formula in a bottle after feeding the baby.

The reason is that it can be dangerous since bacterial infections may arise.

When a baby consumes such formula, they can be sickly and experience symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The saliva from the baby and the infested bacteria can also mix, leading to the multiplication of the bacteria.

After how long should I use my opened powdered formula?

Generally, it is recommended to use powdered formula within 30 days after opening it.

Anything beyond 30 days of opening can degrade the nutritional value.


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Iesha Mulla

Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She's an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.

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