What to do with expired baby formula

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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

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Agricultural studies performed by researchers at Penn State University have found that outdated baby formula can safely be given to calves and other baby animals, if accompanied by a protein supplement.It can be a good source of nutrition.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

Expired powdered formula can be used as a fertilizer since it contains nitrogen and minerals which plants require for growth. Just mix a small amount into your garden soil or sprinkle it around your potted 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.

If you have pets at home like dogs or cats, consult with your veterinarian before adding a small portion of expired baby formula powder into their regular pet food as a nutritional supplement.

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

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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.

Baby formula contains various nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates along with vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy development of infants ([source](/change-in-formula-how-long-does-it-take-a-baby-to-adjust/)).

Over time these nutrients break down causing changes in color, taste or texture which affects consistency along with reduced nutritional value ([source](/baby-making-smacking-sound-while-bottle-feeding/)).

Some ingredients such as fats may even become rancid due oxidation resulting detrimental effects upon ingestion ([source](/76-surprising-things-you-didnt-know-about-bottle-feeding/)).

An unopened container stored under proper conditions should remain fresh until its indicated expiration.

However once opened; air exposure accelerate spoilage thus requiring immediate consumption or discarding post 24 hours. Proper storage is crucial after opening

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.

You might wonder [can you use expired baby formula](/what-to-do-with-expired-baby-formula/) even if just past the expiry date by a few days? The answer is no; using such products exposes infants to numerous risks including:

1. Decreased Nutritional Value: As mentioned earlier, nutrients in baby formulas gradually degrade over time causing reduced efficacy and nourishment ([source](/76-surprising-things-you-didnt-know-about-bottle-feeding/)).

2. Spoiled Ingredients: Certain ingredients such as fats may turn rancid due to oxidation and negatively impact both taste and palatability ([source](/baby-making-smacking-sound-while-bottle-feeding/)).

3. Bacterial Contamination: An opened container of liquid or powdered formula provides an ideal environment for bacteria growth which can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues upon consumption ([source](/effects-of-bottle-feeding-on-teeth-of-your-baby/)).

4. Allergic Reactions: Expired formula may cause allergic reactions in some infants due to the altered composition of ingredients.

It’s not worth jeopardizing your baby’s health with expired formulas as unforeseen consequences may arise. Always prioritize freshness and safety for optimal nourishment and well-being([source](/how-to-clean-a-feeding-bottle/)).

What are the signs of contamination?

Keeping track of your baby formula’s expiration date is essential for your little one’s health and safety. Here are some steps to help you determine whether the formula yu have at hand is still safe to use:

1. Examine the container: Look for a printed expiry date or “best if used by” date on the packaging. This will indicate how long the formula remains nutritionally viable.

2. Assess color and texture: If you find that the formula looks or feels different from when it was first purchased, such as a change in color or clumpiness, this might signal spoilage.

3. Smell test: Spoiled formulas can emit unpleasant or rancid odors due to oxidation ([source](/effects-of-bottle-feeding-on-teeth-of-your-baby/)). Performing a sniff check could be an indicator of an expired product.

In case there’s any doubt about expiration status, err on side caution – discard suspect batch replace newer stocks.

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.

Safe and Responsible Disposal of Expired Baby Formula

Adhering proper disposal practices crucial safeguard environment while upholding household hygiene sanitation standards also aim for precautionary measures avoiding accidental ingestion pets wildlife. Consider following approach disposing off out-of-date formulas:

1. Empty contents packaging into sealable plastic bags mix inedible substances such kitty litter sawdust deter consumption animals.

2. Seal bag tightly double-bag it enhance barrier imposition direct exposure elements potential unsuspecting animals._

3. Place sealed package your regular household trash disposal unit external rubbish collection bin excluding recycling segments facilities minimize mingling sectors reusable items

Keep mind diverse community implications surroundings embrace mindful dispositions regard others humanity whole.

FAQs on Expired Baby Formula

In this section, we’ll address some commonly asked questions about expired baby formula in HTML markdown format:

1. Can you use expired formula?

No, using expired baby formula is not recommended as it may have reduced nutritional value, altered texture, and increased risk of bacterial contamination. It can also lead to potential health problems for your infant.

2. What do you do with formula expired by one month?

If the formula expired by one month, it’s best to dispose of the expired formula safely and responsibly. You can empty its contents into a sealable plastic bag and mix it with an inedible substance like cat litter or sawdust before sealing the bag tightly and placing it in your regular household trash disposal unit.

3. What happens if you use expired formula?

Many parents go to their Doctor and tell them that ” I gave my baby expired formula”.

Feeding your baby with an expired baby formula puts them at risk of decreased nutrition intake, possible allergic reactions due to degraded ingredients, as well as potential bacterial contamination leading to gastrointestinal issues.

4. Can you use unopened expired formula?

No, even if the container is unopened, once a product has passed its expiry date or “best if used by” date provided by the manufacturer; it’s no longer guaranteed that all nutrients will be intact nor safety standards maintained.

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.