Young children, especially infants, are vulnerable to foodborne illness. Breastfeeding is recommended as breast milk is the best source of nutrients for your baby and can help boost the baby's immune system. When a baby is not breastfed, liquid infant formula and powdered infant formula are acceptable alternatives. For caregivers and parents who may not have access to liquid infant formula, or when a suitable liquid infant formula is not available, powdered infant formula can be used if it's prepared properly.
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Sterilization and infant formulas
For safety, children at high risk of health complications should be fed commercially produced liquid infant formula and not powdered formula. At-risk children include those born prematurely, at a low birth weight, or with a vulnerable immune system. If you absolutely have to feed your at-risk child powdered formula, bring your water to a rolling boil for two minutes, then pour it out into containers no larger than one litre and cool it to no less than 70°C before adding the powder.
Preparing and storing powdered infant formula
Prepare your space:
- Clean your countertops and hands with soap and warm water before beginning.
- Sterilize bottles, nipples and spoons by boiling in an open pan of water for two minutes. Allow them to air dry and cool. Cover them with a clean tea towel if you're not going to use them right away.
Prepare the formula:
- Boil tap water for two minutes.
- Cool the water to 70°C, add the powder and mix thoroughly.
- Allow the formula cool again before serving it to your baby.
- Serve formula as soon as possible after it has been prepared, but always check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before serving it to your baby to make sure it isn't too hot.
Boiled water that has cooled to room temperature can be used as long you serve the formula to your baby right away.
- If you prepare formula ahead of time, you can store it for up to 24 hours in a fridge at 4°C.
- Because harmful bacteria can grow at temperatures above 4°C, remove stored formula from the fridge and re-warm it to room or body temperature immediately before feeding your baby.
- To warm up formula that has been stored in the fridge, place it in a bottle warmer or a container of warm water for no more than 15 minutes. The longer you warm it, the greater the chances that harmful bacteria might grow.
- Avoid using a microwave oven to prepare or warm powdered formula, as the uneven heat can create "hot spots" that can burn your child's mouth.
- Any bottle of prepared formula that your baby has started or that you did not store immediately in the fridge should be used within two hours. Don't force your baby to finish the bottle and don't keep leftover formula.
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