When formula feeding, you're going to prepare hundreds of bottles throughout your baby's first months of life, so knowing how to do it safely and efficiently can save you lots of time and mental energy!
On busier days or during life on the go, warming up your baby's formula might not be realistic. If you find yourself in a pickle, you may be wondering, is feeding your baby cold formula safe?
This blog will put an end to the cold vs. warm formula debate as we walk you through the benefits and drawbacks of feeding your little one bottles at various temperatures.
To avoid beating around the bush, the simple answer to this question is no, baby formula does not have to be warmed up. Serving your baby formula that is room temperature or cold is safe as long as all general guidelines for storing and preparing the formula are followed.
That being said, parents often do choose to warm infant formula simply because many babies prefer warm bottles. If this is the case with your baby, all you have to do is place your baby's bottle in a bowl filled with warm water, run the bottle under a stream of warm tap water, or use a handy-dandy baby bottle warmer.
While babies may have a preference for this warmer temperature, if you are consistently giving them a cold bottle, they will likely get used to it as many babies drink cold formula happily!
What’s the best temperature to serve infant formula at?
Ultimately, it is safe to feed your baby cold, room temperature, or warm bottles. As long as it is not too hot (no more than 98.6℉ or 37℃), the best temperature will be based on your baby's preference. The reason babies may prefer formula that is warmed or at room temperature is that it's closer to the temperature of warm breast milk.
If you do choose to warm your child's formula, there are a few guidelines we recommend following:
A warmed bottle should be served at body temperature which is 98.6℉ or 37℃.
After boiling water and mixing it with formula powder, test the temperature of the bottle by dabbing a couple of drops on your wrist; it should feel lukewarm.
Does Warm Formula Have Any Benefits?
Technically speaking, there can be more risks associated with warming formula compared to formula served cold, simply due to the potential of overheating.
As long as you safely prepare the warm formula, there are some benefits:
Some babies are picky about temperature and warmed formula can encourage them to drink their bottle, which ensures that they get enough calories and nutrients.
Premature babies may also benefit from having their formula warmed as certain studies show it can improve formula tolerance.
Is warm formula easier for babies to digest?
When it comes to premature infants, this might be the case, as a study showed that infants who were fed breast milk between 32 and 34 degrees Celsius had fewer gastric residuals (remaining fluids in the stomach after a feeding) than infants who were fed breast milk between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius.
However, this finding is specific to babies born prematurely. There is no evidence to indicate that the temperature of formula makes it easier or harder to digest in full-term infants. Although, some parents anecdotally find that warming formula does reduce their babies' tummy troubles.
Does warm formula cause less gas?
First and foremost, it is normal for infants to experience gas from time to time. This is most often caused by swallowing air during bottle feedings, from crying, or due to sucking their pacifier.
Changing the temperature of your baby's formula will not cause them to have more or less gas unless you are preparing their formula with cold water, which is not recommended as among other issues it can increase gassiness.
Even if you are serving your baby cold formula, their bottle should be prepared with hot water that has been cooled. If you do use cold water, it can be harder for powdered formula to dissolve (even if you vigorously shake the bottle) and this can form more bubbles and foam, and thus, more gas. This is why it's important to always follow the manufacturer's instructions for formula preparation and storage.
There is no correlation between sleepand formula served warm, but if this is part of your baby's bedtime routine, then it may help them relax and prepare their body and mind for rest.
The Pros and Cons of Feeding Your Baby Cold Formula
Convenient for traveling
It may take some time for your baby to not mind cold formula if they aren't used to it
If a baby is not feeding well, it might be hard to feed your baby cold formula
Unwarmed formula may be harder for premature babies to tolerate
How Do You Cool a Bottle of Formula? ❄️
Follow these steps to prepare cold formula:
Cool the bottle down by putting it in an ice bath or under cold running tap water
Keep the prepared formula in the fridge
Do not store formula in the freezer, as it might alter the components
How Do You Warm Up Baby Formula? 🔥
Follow these steps to prepare warm formula:
Warm the bottle by putting it in a bowl of warm water, under running warm water, or in a bottle warmer (more on how to use this safely in the next section).
Test the water before serving to make sure it is lukewarm-not hot.
Never use a microwave to heat formula, it may not heat things evenly and can lead to hot spots that could burn your baby's mouth.
Tips for Warming a Baby Bottle
We have already covered some guidelines, like testing the temperature of milk before serving, but there are a few more steps to consider when warming a baby bottle to keep it safe for your baby.
Do not use a microwave to heat baby bottles, as this can create hot spots which can potentially burn your baby's mouth, throat, and esophagus.
If you are using a bottle warmer, make sure to do so with caution as it can be challenging to get the right temperature. It's best to begin by sticking to the lower heat settings and adjusting accordingly.
Choose a bottle made using high-quality material that is BPA-free.
Risks of Heating Formula
When formula gets too hot many of the beneficial properties can disappear and if heated incorrectly, either using a microwave or bottle warmer, your baby can get injured. This is why you must check the temperature of their formula before serving it and take precautions to avoid overheating your baby's formula.
Can You Reheat Formula?
Prepared powdered infant formula should be served and used within 2 hours. If your baby does not finish their bottle after an hour, you'll have to discard any of the remaining formula. This means that formula cannot be reheated, because used formula that has been stored in the refrigerator can harbor bacteria from your baby's mouth.
Preparing your baby's bottle is just one of the many steps on the never-ending to-do list of a new parent, so it helps to know that you don't have to fret about the temperature. Feeding your baby cold or warmed formula is perfectly fine in most circumstances and it all comes down to the preference of your little one. So long as you follow the safe feeding guidelines as outlined in this article, then making up baby bottles will be a breeze!
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.