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Bottle Feeding Safely


Breast milk is the best and most natural food for babies, it’s ready to feed and it’s free. However, if you have made an informed decision to bottle feed your baby you need to know how to prepare and store the bottle food safely.

How do I sterilise bottles for feeding?
Bottles and all equipment (e.g. teats, collars, discs, caps and tongs) must be sterilised before using to ensure there are no harmful bacteria present which may grow in the feed once it is prepared and which could make your baby sick.
Bottles and equipment must be first washed in hot soapy water, rinsed in clean running water and then sterilised by using steam sterilisation, boiling or using sterilising liquid or tablets. Once sterilised, a sterile tongs should be used to handle all bottles and equipment.

Full details on washing and the different sterilisation methods can be found in the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute’s booklet ‘Bottle Feeding your Baby’

Should I use hot or cold water for preparing feeds?
The use of hot water (70ºC) is the preferred method for making feeds. This temperature is achieved by boiling water in the kettle and letting it cool for 30 minutes before using. This water is hot enough to kill any bacteria that may be in the food.

If you cannot prepare feed immediately using hot water you can prepare bottles of sterile water in advance to use to make the feed when required. Feed prepared in this manner cannot be stored and must be consumed immediately.
Note: Some specialised feeds cannot be made using hot water so in these cases manufacturer’s instructions should be followed.

Full details can be found in the booklet ‘Bottle Feeding your Baby’

How long can I store feed once it is made up?
Feed made using hot water (70ºC) can be made in advance and stored provided it is cooled completely, stored at the back of the refrigerator and used within 24 hours. Feed made using cooled pre-sterilised water cannot be kept and should be consumed immediately.

Where can I find more information on bottle feeding?
More detailed information on the above topics and other areas of bottle feeding can be found in the booklet ‘Bottle Feeding your Baby' from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute.

Last reviewed: 18/10/2013

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