A lot of parents wonder does baby formular expire or how long does baby formula last.
And the answer will vary depending on if the formula is opened, unopened, or already mixed.
There is no denying that baby formula is expensive, so you want to make sure that you are not unnecessarily throwing it out.
But sometimes you just have to for the health and safety of your baby.
That’s why we put together this guide on baby formula shelf life, so we can answer all those burning questions you may have on the expiration date on baby formula.
And while we are talking about does formula expire, you might want to check out our guides on do baby bottles expire and do pacifiers expire? Or even our guides on Enfamil Sensitive Vs Gentlease, Enfamil Gentlease vs Neuropro, and best formula that tastes like breast milk!
Does Baby Formula Expire?
Yes, baby formula does expire.
How long does formula last unopened? If you look at your baby formula canister you’ll find a use-by or expiration date to indicate it’s unopened shelf life. This should be one year after manufacture.
The expiration date on your canister of baby formula is an indication of when the ingredients and nutrition will begin to break down in the formula on your unopened canister, thus making it no longer as effective for your baby’s needs.
What is the baby formula expiration date after opening? Once you have opened your canister of baby formula, the unmixed formular should be used within 1 month of opening.
How long does mixed formula last? Prepared infant formula should be used within 2 hours of preparation and within one hour from when feeding begins. Mixed formula that has been refrigerated should be used within 24 hours.
Can You Use Expired Baby Formula?
No, you should not buy or use expired baby formula for feeding your baby.
If you see expired formula on the shelf at the store, take it to an employee to prevent someone else from accidentally purchasing it.
Some less popular or more expensive formula brands are more likely to have a slow turnaround and have expired formula left on the shelf.
If you do have expired formula though, you don’t have to necessarily throw it away as there are other uses for expired baby formula other than to feed your baby.
These can include donating it to animal shelters to using it in your garden.
What Happens To Baby Formula After It Expires?
After baby formula hits its expiration date the contents begin to break down.
This means that expired baby formula doesn’t provide the nutrition your baby needs to grow strong and healthy.
The baby formula expiration date is set to a year after manufacture. While most foods are safe to use after their expiration date the risk here is more so the quality of nutrition your baby needs.
How Can You Tell If The Baby Formula Has Expired?
The baby formula actually has multiple points where it can expire.
The expiration date on the package should always be followed as the nutrition in the product drops drastically over time.
But there are other points that baby formula expires that you should be mindful of.
1. Within 30 Days Of Opening
Always use baby formula within 30 days of opening.
Unlike the main expiration date, this reasoning has less to do with the breakdown of nutrition and more to do with the risk of bacteria.
Powdered formula is not sterile and once you open that canister germs in the air around you can get into the canister and in turn into your baby’s food supply.
While the baby formula may look and smell fine, but bacterial growth can get out of hand pretty quickly in 30 days which can lead to your baby getting sick.
Moisture in the air of your home can get into the canister every time you open it. This can lead to issues with the product breaking down faster once opened. This can affect the quality of the formula and the nutrition your baby gets but spoilage is more likely as well. When your formula comes into contact with moisture the dairy ingredients that spoil easily are no longer fully dry and shelf stable.
To make it easy to track when you should toss out a canister you can use a sharpie to mark the date 30 days from the day you opened it.
This is important if you are using the formula as a supplement, at an occasional babysitter’s home, or you tend to keep more than one canister open at a time for convenience.
2. In The Refrigerator After Mixing
Many parents like to mix up baby formula ahead of time and use a bottle warmer to make life easier.
This is a smart choice because the formula is not sterile and should be mixed with boiling water, not at room temperature. You cannot give your baby boiling hot formula so mixing it ahead of time and warming it when your baby is ready to eat is a great way to help save time and reduce your stress.
Baby formula that has been mixed and placed into the refrigerator can stay for up to 24 hours safely.
Always cover your baby formula in an air-tight container to keep germs and orders from your refrigerator out of your baby’s food.
3. After Serving
Once you give your baby the bottle your baby’s mouth has introduced bacteria into the formula.
This means that your baby’s formula is likely to grow bacteria and spoil really quickly.
Your baby’s bottle is good for 1 hour after you have given it to them.
This means you will need to keep track of how long you have had a particular bottle out of the refrigerator and remove it once it has hit the 1 hour mark.
The best way to avoid waste here is to avoid overfilling bottles.
You can always give your baby another bottle if they finished the first and are still hungry but once you give them baby formula you have to toss out leftovers.
How To Store Baby Formula
To protect your baby formula and prevent it from going bad early you should always store the canisters in a cool dark place.
A hot place like the cabinet over the stove or a sunny place like in a windowsill will heat the formula and speed up the breakdown of nutrients inside. This will keep your baby from getting the nutrition they need.
Keep your baby formula dry. If your home is very humid you may want to consider using a dehumidifier inside the cabinet you are storing your baby formula. Even closed baby formula canisters may let moisture in through the paperboard sides. This will help to fight the express moisture in the air and help make your baby formula last longer so you can get the full shelf life out of your containers, particularly the open ones.
After mixing your baby’s formula, always store it in the refrigerator while you wait for your baby to need it.
This will slow the breakdown of the milk solids in your baby formula along with the growth of any bacteria. Store this mixed formula in an air-tight container to prevent the mixing of flavors in your refrigerator. A pitcher made for drinks that does not form a complete seal is not a good choice for storing your baby formula despite being a popular choice.
Your baby’s bottles without a cap or seal under the nipple is also not a good choice for storing your baby’s formula as germs and orders from your refrigerator can get in through the hole in the nipple.
Final Thoughts on Baby Formula Expiry Dates
If you’re using baby formula for your child, make sure that you check the expiry date before use as baby formula does expire.
Once you’ve opened your baby formula, it’s a great idea to write the date of opening as well as 30 days from that date on the lid so you know when your formula canister will expire. Again, with refrigerated baby bottles you have mixed you have 24hr to use it so writing the date mixed on it can be very handy to know how long you have to use it before it expires.
We hope this guide has been helpful!