Food safety - How to make infant formula

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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Breast milk is the best food for your baby until 12 months of age.  If you choose to, or need to use infant formula, correct preparation is very important.

You will need:

  • your can of infant formula,
  • baby bottles with caps, teats,
  • a knife, 
  • cooled boiled water, or bottled water (not recommended to use filtered water).


Before preparing formula, wash your hands, clean all equipment in hot soapy water and then rinse. Use a bottle brush to wash the inside and outside of the bottle thoroughly before sterilising. 


Clean and sterilise bottles and caps (or cup), teats and knife by bringing water to a steady boil in a large saucepan with a lid (making sure all equipment is covered by the water and eliminate air bubbles from the bottles) and boil for 5 minutes. Allow to cool in the saucepan and put any equipment not being used straight away into a clean container in the fridge until equipment is needed (up to 24 hours).

Alternatively use a chemical sterilising solution according to directions, or a steam sterilising unit.  Sterilising with chemicals or steam is only effective if the bottles are thoroughly cleaned first.  Sterilised equipment not being used straight away can be stored in a clean container in the fridge until needed (up to 24 hours).

How to make up the formula

1. Clean the surface on which you are preparing the formula.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

3. Boil fresh water.  If using an automatic kettle, wait until the automatic cut-off, or if boiling in a saucepan wait for the water to come to a steady boil.  Allow this water to cool for at least 30 minutes, until luke warm, before using to make up formula.

4. Follow the exact instructions on the can of how to prepare your child’s infant formula.

5. Measure the correct amount of cooled boiled water into the sterile bottle/container before adding the powder.

6. Lightly fill the scoop with the powder. Scrape the back of the sterilised knife over the top of the scoop to level the powder.  Do not pack powder in the scoop.  Always use the scoop provided in the can of formula.

7. Add the correct number of scoops of formula to the water.

8. Cap the bottles firmly and shake. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Storing formula

  • You can make up several bottles at a time.
  • Once made, formula must be kept refrigerated (at 5°C or below). Formula that has been at room temperature for less than one hour may be stored in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Throw away any leftover prepared formula after 24 hours.
  • Discard any formula left in the bottle after a feed. Any formula that has been at room temperature for longer than one hour must be discarded.
  • Immerse your baby’s bottle in a jug / container of warm water to reheat (no longer than 15 minutes).
  • Occasionally shake/move bottle to ensure the bottle re-heats evenly.
  • Do not use the microwave. Microwaves heat unevenly, and the hot milk can burn your baby. It can also reduce some of the vitamins in the milk.
  • Always test the temperature of the formula by putting a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby.

Heating Formula

Transporting formula

It is best to transport water and powder separately, and prepare the formula at the destination.  Carry individual portions of powder in a sterilized container, and measured volumes of sterilized water in bottles.

If using pre-made formula, due to potential harmful bacteria growing during transport, formula needs to be cold (at 5°C or below) before transport.  Remove feed from refrigerator immediately before transporting. Transport in a bag with ice packs, and the formula needs to be used within 2 hours.

For More Information:

Multicultural Health Communication Service Factsheets, NSW.

Children, Youth & Women’s Health Service – Parenting and Child Health. 

NHMRC Infant Feeding Guildelines.


  • Always follow the instructions on the can of infant formula.
  • Always use the scoop provided in the can of infant formula.
  • Always keep hot liquids & appliances out of reach of children.
  • Never allow your infant to sleep with, or leave them unattended with a bottle of infant formula.

For more Information

The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Hunter New England Kids Health

For publications recommended by our hospitals' experts, please visit the Kids Health book shop.