expired baby formula

What to do with expired baby formula

In this post we are going to talk about the various suggestions on what to do with baby formula that has expired

Does baby formula expire?

Yes baby formula expires if you cross the “formula expiration date” or “use by date” mentioned on the formula by the manufacturer on the container or box.

Expired baby formula happens to the best of parents.

Maybe the can got shoved to the back of the cupboard or your baby didn’t eat as much this month as you expected.

Whatever the case, nearly all of us have pulled out a package of baby formula only to realize that it’s expired.

When that happens, it can be hard to know what to do.

On one hand, baby formula is so expensive, and you really don’t want to throw it in the trash.

But on the other hand, you’d never want to feed your child a product that could be bad for them or cause food poisoning.

Putting the baby at risk would be your biggest concern.

Let us now dive into what you can do with formula that has passed the expiration date.

For those of you who are in a hurry and are looking for good baby formulas, please check out this list of the top 5 best selling formula on Amazon

What to do with expired formula?

While it is true that expired baby food can no longer be eaten by human babies, there are some other alternative uses for formula that has passed its expiration date.

Exchange for new formula.

If you remember where you bought the expired formula, you may be able to exchange unopened packages for new ones that aren’t past their expiration date.

It’s always a good idea to contact your store and ask them about their expired baby formula policies to see if this is an option for you.

Even if your baby is no longer using formula or has switched to another brand, you could still exchange the expired formula to give the new packages to another baby you know or to the local food bank.

Animal Feed – Give to a local cattle farmer.

Agricultural studies performed by researchers at Penn State University have found that outdated baby formula can safely be given to calves and other baby animals, if accompanied by a protein supplement.It can be a good source of nutrition.

Due to the high nutrient content, it is an excellent way of using expired food.

If you aren’t a farmer yourself, you might consider reaching out to a local beef or dairy producer to offer them your stock of expired baby formula.

For more information about the research into giving expired formula to calves, check out this article from Penn State.

Use in your garden.

Baby formula contains several ingredients, among them calcium, that are essential for healthy plants.

In various web forums, users note that their plants grew more heartily after fertilizing them with expired baby formula.

While it most likely will not provide all the nutrients needed, your expired formula may be a good supplement to add to your garden.

Check with your local extension office or a horticulturalist (plant expert) to see if this could be an option for you.

Repel garden pests.

A study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that deer are repelled by hydrolyzed casein, a form of protein found in baby formula.

The study notes that certain specialty brands with a concentration of 17 percent or higher are the most effective, but that even other standard brands could be beneficial.

Check the research report about this unusual use of expired baby formula here.

Also, read here for expert gardener Walter Reeves’ recipe for deer repellent using baby formula.

Pet care

If the formula has not developed any mold or is not contaminated, you could you could give it to pet shelters who would use it to feed kittens and puppies.

These poor souls would be more than happy to get a nice meal.

Many animal shelters may be willing to accept your expired baby formula to feed as a nutritional supplement for sick animals.

These services usually have limited budgets that may prevent them from buying specialized vitamins or food supplements that could save a seriously ill animal’s life.

In those cases, your expired formula might be something they can include with other treatments to help strengthen an animal who might otherwise die.

Each shelter or rescue will have their own policies about what donations they can receive, but it never hurts to check to see if your expired formula is something they can use.

Best Selling Baby formulas

Bestseller No. 1
Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron, with 2’-FL HMO, for Immune Support, Baby Formula, Powder, (One-Month Supply), 2.25 Pound (Pack of 3)
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Bestseller No. 2
Enfamil Gentlease Baby Formula, Reduces Fussiness, Crying, Gas and Spit-up in 24 hours, DHA & Choline to support Brain development, Value Powder Can, 27.7 Oz (Pack of 4)
  • #1 INFANT FORMULA: Enfamil - Infant formula recommended by...
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  • CONTAINS DHA & CHOLINE: Important nutrients found in breast milk to...
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SaleBestseller No. 3
Enfamil Infant Formula, Milk-based Baby Formula with Iron, Powder Can, 21.1 Oz (Pack of 4)
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Bestseller No. 4
Enfamil Nutramigen Infant Formula, Hypoallergenic and Lactose Free Formula with Enflora LGG, Fast Relief from Severe Crying and Colic, Powder Can, 27.8 Oz (Pack of 4)
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SaleBestseller No. 5
Earth's Best Organic Baby Formula, Dairy Based Powder Infant Formula with Iron, Non-GMO, Omega-3 DHA and Omega-6 ARA, 32 oz
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Bestseller No. 6
Similac Pro-Advance Infant Baby Formula with Iron with 2’-FL HMO for Immune Support, Non-GMO, Unflavored, 20.6 Oz
  • 2’-FL HMO FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT: Similac Pro-Advance has 2’-FL HMO, a...
  • SUPPORTS BRAIN & EYE DEVELOPMENT: Features our exclusive blend of DHA,...
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  • TRUSTED BRAND: Similac is the infant formula brand chosen by parents
  • NO ARTIFICIAL GROWTH HORMONES & NON-GMO: Similac is the first leading...
Bestseller No. 7
Gerber Good Start GentlePro (HMO) Non-GMO Powder Infant Formula, Stage 2, Gentle Baby Formula with Iron, 2’-FL HMO and Probiotics for Digestive Health and Immune System Support,245 Ounces (Pack of 4)
  • Gentle Nutrition: Modeled after the complete nutrition and gentleness...
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Bestseller No. 8
Enfamil Gentlease Baby Formula, Reduces Fussiness, Crying, Gas and Spit-up in 24 hours, DHA & Choline to support Brain development, Value Powder Can, 27.7 Oz
  • #1 INFANT FORMULA: Enfamil - Infant formula recommended by...
  • DUAL PREBIOTICS: An exclusive blend of dual prebiotics designed to...
  • CONTAINS DHA & CHOLINE: Important nutrients found in breast milk to...
  • HELPS TO EASE COLIC: Clinically shown to ease fussiness, gas and...
  • NEXT STAGE RECOMMENDATION: When your baby is 12 months or older, try...
Bestseller No. 9
Happy Baby Organics Infant Formula, Milk Based Powder with Iron Stage 1, 21 Ounce (Pack of 4) packaging may vary
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PurAmino Junior Hypoallergenic Baby Drink, for Severe Food Allergies, Omega-3 DHA, Iron, Immune Support, Powder Can, 14.1 Oz (Pack of 4)
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Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Types of Formula

There are 3 basic forms of baby formula, each one with a different make-up and use.

Powdered formula ( Check out the top ones available )

Liquid concentrate form ( Check out the top ones available )

Ready-to-feed form ( Check out the top ones available )

Depending on the type of formula you use, the shelf-life will be different.

The powder form is generally the least expensive and longest-lasting option.

The liquid concentrate and ready-to-feed forms usually last only 48 hours after being prepared or opened.

Check out this link from the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information about these forms of baby formula to help you choose which one is best for your baby and your lifestyle.

When does infant formula expire?

All baby formulas will come with a printed expiration date on the packaging.

It is important that you check this date before buying formula as vendors will sometimes sell expired or close to the date products that you may not be able to use before they lose quality and can no longer be used.

How long is baby formula good for after expiration date? Can you use expired formula?

No form of baby formula is good for feeding to your baby after the expiration date.

Baby formula loses nutritional quality and becomes prone to bacterial growth after the expiration date.

It is strongly recommended not to use expired formula.

Babies have delicate digestive systems and can easily become sick if their food is not at its best quality.

Read here to understand the risks of foodborne illnesses for babies and young children.

Check out this guide from the USDA to understand the expiration date regulations applied to baby formula (and other foods).

What happens if you give baby expired formula

From food poisoning, diarrhea, vomiting, and potential harm, everything can occur if your baby drank expired formula.

It is advisable to contact your Doctor urgently

What are the signs of contamination?

The most common thing is mold growing in the expired powder formula, or the powder itself looking frosted up.

How long is powdered baby formula good for?

Unmixed powdered baby formula usually lasts about a year after it is produced by the manufacturer.

After the printed formula expiration date, the nutritional quality breaks down and the formula can begin to clump.

Powdered baby formula also carries the extra risk of causing a bacterial infection called Cronobacter, if used beyond its expiration date or if not stored properly.

Read here for the CDC’s advice for best-practice formula use to avoid Cronobacter infections.

How long is baby formula good for once opened?


Once you open a can of powdered baby formula, most varieties should be used within a month.

That being said, you should always read the label on the formula you’re using to be sure, as some kinds of powdered formula may be good for less time.

Also, if the expiration date passes before the month is over, you should not continue to use the formula, as the formula powder will begin to lose important nutrients.

Opened liquid formula, whether concentrate or ready to feed, generally must be used within 48 hours after opening, but also must be stored in the refrigerator during that time.

How long is mixed baby formula good for once prepared?

Once prepared for eating, all forms of baby formula should be used within 2 hours.


That means if you heat a bottle that your baby doesn’t eat or if they do not finish what you prepare, you must throw it out after two hours.

This is due to bacteria growth from the heat and from contact with the air and your baby’s mouth.

How long is refrigerated baby formula good for?

refrigerated formula

If you prefer to prepare your baby’s formula in advance, for example for overnight feedings, you should refrigerate the formula immediately and use it within 24 hours.

Be careful to prepare any formula that you are going to store with cold water to help prevent bacterial growth.

Make sure to throwaway any leftovers in the baby bottle once you have finished the feed, as this can attract bacteria and cause food poisoning.

How many times can you reheat prepared formula?

You should never reheat prepared formula due to the presence and growth of bacteria in an already warmed bottle.

If your baby does not finish their formula within 2 hours after you have prepared it, it’s better to just throw away the leftovers.

Check this link for the FDA’s recommendations to avoid foodborne illnesses in your baby:

Can you freeze baby formula?

Unlike breast milk, baby formula is not considered appropriate for freezing.

When put in the freezer, powdered formulas will clump, and liquid formulas will separate.

This causes break-down of both the consistency and the nutritional quality of the formula.

Thankfully, due to the convenient and quick preparation that formula offers, you really never need to freeze it.

Concluding thoughts

With all the things you have to think and worry about as a parent, it’s almost certain that at some point you may have a can (or several cans) of baby formula to expire before you can use it.

As frustrating as that is, the most important thing to remember is to not be tempted to feed the expired formula to your baby.

Rather than think too much about the waste, check to see if one of the alternative uses for expired formula listed above could be an option for you.

And, even if nothing works out and your only choice is to toss your expired formula, remember that it really is just spilled milk after all, a very minor cost that comes with the blessing of being a parent.

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Kendra Isaacs is originally from the state of Kentucky but moved to Mexico to study and ended up staying for love. She has a BA in Spanish with a minor in Communication Studies and has recently completed a master’s degree in Hispanic American Literature. In addition to writing and translation, she teaches English and enjoys photography and baking. Kendra is currently expecting her first baby and now uses the investigation strategies she learned while writing her graduate thesis to guide her in her newest and biggest project yet: preparing for her expanding family during a pandemic, miles away from her family. Here she shares her findings with our community to make it easier for other moms to find the answers to their most frequently asked questions.

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