When does baby formula expire and how to make it last

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Are you a new mother and not sure how to tell when baby formula expires? This article will talk about the different types of formulas, shelf life, expiration dates, and tips for making it last as long as possible.

Formulae are made up of water, milk, solids (e.g. lactose), whey protein concentrate or isolate and other ingredients depending on the type. When these formulas expire, mold or bacteria are formed which can be harmful to your child if consumed.

Does Baby Formula expire?

The answer to “does baby formula expire?” will vary and depends on whether the formula is opened, unopened or mixed.

It will also depend on the type of formula.

All baby formula have an expiration date and each form of fomula has a different time period.

They all have different expiraton periods before and after opening. 

The unopened shelf life is different and is specified by the manufacturer ( and printed on the formula containers or the package of baby formula.)

After opening or after mixing, the period will vary depending on the type.

Before we start let us first talk about the different forms of formula available, as the shelf lives and expiration will depend on that.

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Formulas are available in the following forms:

– Liquid Concentrate formulas and Ready to feed( Pre-Made Formula / Ready-Made Formula): this can be used by just adding water or are ready to use and has a shelf life of six to eight months.

– Powder formula : This can be mixed with water (followed by milk) in a baby bottle

liquid baby formula

These can last up to 1 to 2 years on average, so it should be stored properly.

Ready to feed can be used directly and is the most convenient.

Try to use bottled water and avoid tap water at all costs

When does baby formula expire? 

Shelf life and Expiration dates are as follows

Powdered Baby Formula

The shelf life of powdered infant formula is as per the expiration date given by the manufacturer and it is mentioned on the packaging. However, they can be kept unopened for upto 1 year preferably in a dry area at room temperature.

Read this Labeling guide issued by the FDA ( Foods and Drug Administration).

Once the formula is opened it should be used within a month and once it is prepared it should be used within an hour if left out or within 48 hrs if kept in a refirigerator ( within an hour of being prepared)

The temperature of your refrigerator should be 40°F (4.4°C) or lower.

They also have a “use by date” which tells you the date you use it before to get the maximum out of it. The nutrients start to deteriorate after this date so please make sure that you note this date.

Concentrate and Read to feed forms ( Pre-Made Formula / Ready-Made Formula) )

Liquid formulas have an expiration period of up to six to eight months., depending on the type.

Many can come in cans or single-serve packets which reduces waste and provides mothers with more convenience when caring for their baby or toddler. The shelf life will vary based on the manufacturer so it’s important to know what you’re buying beforehand.

Concentrate form have expiration dates of 12-24 months, depending on the type.

You can keep unopened formula as per the expiration date mentioned on the container. Once you open any of these you can use them upto 48 hours. Once you have mixed them you should try to use them within 1 hour or upto 48 hours if kept in a refrigerator

These formulas expire and can form mold or bacteria that is harmful if consumed, so it’s important to know how long your formula will last before you need to replace the container in order to ensure that there are no risks of ingestion for your child. It’s also worth noting some other ingredients depending on the type of formula. The health of your child is the most important concern.

.Untouched, room-temperature formula should be thrown away at the two-hour mark.

A prepared (but untouched) bottle of formula can be stored in the back of the fridge for 24 hours. Opened containers of ready-to-feed and liquid concentrate formulas are good for 48 hours.

There’s no reason to freeze formula. As per the FDA, you should not freeze formula. 

Read this for a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Infant formula.

Just mix the powder and water—or use premixed liquid ready-to-feed formula—when you need it.

Generally the expiration dates depend on the main ingredients used, which are as follows

Cow’s milk formula: Expires in a year

Soy-based infant formulas and rice-based formulas: Expire within 18 months to two years.

Goat’s milk, coconut water or Almond based drinks (i.e.: Nutramigen): These will expire depending on the product but generally have shorter shelf lives that those above at

Liquid formula is made up of milk, water and sugar. When you mix it together to make a bottle of formula for your baby, there will be bacteria that is introduced which can lead to spoilage if not kept cold enough in transit or storage

So keeping the liquid form refrigerated should keep it from spoiling as quickly

If you choose powdered formulas, here are the formula expiration date some popular ones:

Enfamil: up to 12 months

Similac: up to 24 months.

As with all food items it’s important to note expiration dates and know how long you will be able to use your baby formula before it expires or spoils.

A great way to make sure your child has enough milk is by buying in bulk so you have a few packages available at all times.

Frequently asked questions

How long does formula last once you open it?

Powder formula must be used within a month or so once you open it.

Concentrate and Ready to use formula must be used with 24 hours after it is opened.

Can you use formula after you open it?

Yes, but it needs to be kept properly.

Powder formula needs to be kept in a dry and cool place.

Ready to use and liquid ones need to be kept refrigerated ( not frozen).

Does Baby Formula Powder Expire If Unopened?

Formula in powder form will have a shelf life of up to 18 months as long as the container is unopened. Once opened, it must be kept in a cool and dry plce and used within 1 month.

Ready to use and liquid ones have a general shelf life of 6 to 8 months. The cans of formula must be kept properly in a fridge.

Can expired formula make baby sick?

Your child could become sick if the formula is spoiled.

They can get diarrhea and vomit from it.

You must consult a Doctor immediately.

Does Mixed Baby Formula Go Bad?

Even prepared formula has a shelf life. Once it is mixed, it can be kept up to 1 hour in the open and up to 48 hours in a refrigerator. If the leftover formula has crossed the above time limit you must discard it.

You can use a bottle warmer if you are using refrigerated formula.

Are there any ways to make Expired Formula or Mixed Baby Formula last longer?

The main way is to store Formula properly

  • Store in a dry and Cool place – avoid temperature changes
  • Check if the packages are not dented and have any holes in them
  • Avoid putting them in  the Freezer
  • Follow all instructions given by the manufacturer.

If your formula has expired you can still use it in some cases. You may want to add it to your child’s cereal, use it in a recipe like oatmeal or even mix it with water.

You could also use it as animal feed and is especially known to be good for calves.

To learn what you can do with expired formula, read this article –What to do with expired baby formula

How do you store mixed formula milk for night feeds?

For the night feeds ,you can store ready to feed formula ( or mixed formula ) in a fridge

and use within 24 hours

How to tell if Infant Formula is bad, rotten or spoiled?

If the formula looks strange, smells bad or has mould on it, don’t use it.

Some signs of spoilage

  • Formation of mold
  • changes in color or smell
  • chunks at the bottom of a bottle that didn’t dissolve when shaken.

If you notice any of these signs discard the formula  immediately and contact your doctor to discuss any problem your baby might be facing.

How long is Infant Formula good for when prepared in a dish?

You should prepare the formula for no more than 48 hours. After that, you can either discard it or use it to make baby food.”

How to Read and Understand Expiration and other Dates

The expiration date for baby formula is usually on the front flap or just below where you can find it. It may also be expressed in several formats, such as “mm/dd” and “yy/mm”.

You will also find the “use-by” or “best-before” dates mentioned here, which give you the dates before which you will get the most from the product.

It can get confusing since manufacturers use different types of expiration dates. “Best by” dates are commonly used to get the peak nutrition benefit, and if the date has passed , it does not necessarily mean that the product is unsafe to consume. You can use the formula by the date or soon after.

Read this for the safety of your child.

Can babies drink cold formula?

Yes, a baby can drink cold formula if it was refrigerated. However, you need to shake the bottle before feeding because the formula can separate. If you’re using powdered formula, you can warm it in the microwave for a few seconds before feeding. Never heat up any kind of milk bottle in the microwave because it may cause the bottle or milk to explode and cause burns.

Should you microwave liquid formula?

Never heat formula in a microwave because this can create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth. 

Make sure to check the temperature of the bottle before feeding to protect your baby.

You can test by putting a few drops on the inside of your wrist.

What are the guidleines for Infant formula preparation and storage

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, please read these guidelines to help you learn the best practices for preparation of Baby formula and Storage.


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Carrie Walters is a young mother of Nina and Tom, who along with her husband Jake is passionate about helping moms and families find modern solutions to common parenting and lifestyle questions. Together with a team of real moms and medical experts, this young couple share sound advice and proven tips to help make your life easier.
They manage this blog along with other blogs and Youtube channels on similar topics