What Happens If Baby Drinks Old Formula? (Things to Consider)

  • By: Sandra
  • Date: March 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 10 min.

What happens if my baby drinks old formula? If you’re a new parent, this might be one of the biggest worries on your mind if you have chosen formula feeding as your method of feeding. Formula is expensive and you want to make sure that it’s fresh for when your little one needs it! In this blog post we will discuss three things to consider when your baby drinks old formula: 1) how much bacteria is in the milk, 2) what are the health risks, and 3) how long does a can of formula last before going bad.

When you pick up a carton of formula, the expiration date might seem like one more thing to worry about. But what happens if your baby drinks old formula? Is it still safe for them to drink? Let’s take a closer look at 3 things that can happen when your baby drinks old formula and how to prevent them from happening!

Accidentally Feeding Your Baby Old Formula?

In most circumstances, nothing will happen if your baby drinks old formula, but there is an increased risk of foodborne infections, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in certain cases as well as dehydration in severe cases in others. However, this is quite unusual, and the majority of the time, what occurs is that the formula is not as nutritious as it was when it was first prepared.

How Much Bacteria is in the Liquid Formula

The biggest danger in giving your baby old formula is that it can contain bacteria, which can make your baby sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the most common illness caused by contaminated infant formula is a diarrheal disease called Cronobacter sakazakii infection.” This type of infection can be deadly, especially in newborns and very young infants. However, it is a rare occurrence that your baby will get this from expired formula milk.

Spoiled formula milk may contain a multitude of different bacteria, including Cronobacter sakazakii, Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H- (E. coli), and Staphylococcus aureus. If your baby drinks this milk, they could develop any number of illnesses, including diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and even food poisoning. If they develop any of these symptoms after drinking expired baby formula call your doctor immediately. Your baby’s health is vital, if there is any milk formula left in the baby’s mouth try and rinse it out.

How to Prevent Your Baby From Getting Ill from Drinking Spoiled Formula Milk

Preventing your baby from drinking old formula is the best way to protect them from these illnesses. Be sure to check the expiration date on all cans of formula, and don’t use any that have expired. If you’re not sure whether a can of formula has expired or not, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and throw it away!

Another thing to consider is that the expiration date on a carton of the formula isn’t just a suggestion. Once a carton of formula expires, it’s no longer safe to drink. This is because the milk in the formula can start to spoil and grow bacteria. If your baby drank spoiled formula it may make them ill. Although the most time when a baby drinks expired formula they should be fine, it may make your baby fall sick.

If you’ve been storing your baby’s formula for a while, make sure to check the expiration date before giving it to them. If it’s close to or past the expiration date, throw it away and get a new can.

The smell of old or expired formula might give you a clue about how long it’s been sitting around! If your baby’s liquid formula starts to have an odor or strange taste, that is usually a good sign that something is wrong with the milk in their bottle. Make sure to check for mold and discoloration as well.

Can babies get sick from drinking old formula?

If your baby accidentally drank old formula and is exhibiting signs like vomiting or illness do not hesitate to contact a doctor right away! If you accidentally give them spoiled formula milk, the effects could be anything from diarrhea to long-term developmental issues in babies. The CDC recommends talking with a pediatrician if you are unsure about what kind of symptoms to look for.

Cronobacter infections

Cronobacther infections happen when bacteria from formula or powdered milk enters the body and causes an infection. This type of bacteria is rare, but it can cause severe illness in newborns and very young infants. Symptoms of a Cronobacter infection include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and a lack of energy. If your baby has any of these symptoms after drinking old formula, contact your pediatrician right away!

While rare, are a serious health risk for babies. If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not to give your baby formula that’s been sitting around for a while, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

How long will old formula last?

According to the FDA, unopened cans of formula have a shelf life of two years. After the can is opened, it should be used within four months. If you have any leftover formula after your baby has finished their bottle, make sure to throw it away. Don’t save it for later!

If you’re ever unsure about how long a particular kind of formula has been sitting around, or if it’s still safe to drink, check the expiration date on the cans. If you’re still not sure whether or not it’s okay to use a can of formula that has been sitting around for a while, throw it out and get some new one!

How long will old baby formula last after its opened?

Unopened bottles of liquid infant formula can be used for up to four months after their opening. If you’re ever unsure about how long that old baby formula has been sitting around or if it’s still safe to drink, make sure to check the expiration date on your bottles of formula. If your making is drinking a mixture of expressed breast milk and formula, a good tip is to date the powdered formula tin once you open it. This will let you know how long you have had it open.

As scary as it sounds, there are some risks associated with drinking old formula. However, by following these simple tips, you can help to keep your baby safe and healthy!

How can you tell if Baby Formula has gone bad?

If you have some old cans of formula in your pantry, how can you tell if it’s still safe to drink?

Keep an eye out for these signs that the milk has gone bad:

The old formula milk will smell ‘off’ or sour.

The liquid formula is similar to when regular cow milk went bad or had an unpleasant taste, it also applies to the formulae. It will not be like spoiled cow milk, but you will notice it smells different than expected.

Separation of Formula Milk Ingredients in Expired Formula

If you notice the formula separates from water, this is a sign that it has gone bad. If you have leftover milk and want to use it up quickly, try mixing again with clean water until smooth before feeding your baby.

Clumping in Old Formula

When formula powder mixes with water or tub, it is safe for your infant to not drink it. The formula may look curdled or have a chunky appearance. It might also be moldy, lumpy, or separated from the rest of the milk in the can. If you notice any signs of spoilage (like an off smell), throw it out immediately!

Your baby gets poorly after feeds

It can cause your baby to get sick after the feeding. If you think that the old formula milk was the cause of baby’s illness, speak with your paediatrician. Remember babies have a weak immune system and a baby’s stomach cannot tolerate spoilt food like adults can. A baby drinking spoiled milk will vomit, have diarrhoea and might not want to eat anything else. Avoid feeding him any further until his stomach has settled but you may want to give him some water to keep the baby hydrated.

If you accidentally fed your baby spoiled formula keep a close eye for any reaction to see if the baby develops any illness and if you are worried seek medical attention. A baby reacts to spoilt food differently to adults as their baby’s system is immature. When a baby vomits straight up, this could be a good sign as their body is rejecting the spoiled food instantly.

How long does powdered formula last?

Unopened cans of formula have a shelf life of up to 24 months as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place.

When looking at a container of powdered baby formula sitting on the shelf of a grocery store or drugstore, most people would assume that there is a date on the package that indicates how long the product is safe to use. In fact, there are very few federal regulations in place governing this specific type of product.

The only guidance for manufacturers comes from The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “Food Code,” which recommends that all infant formulas be labeled with a “use by” date.

Powder formulas typically have the best by dates printed in the can. The expiry dates refer to the time the nutrients in formula begin to break down and the ‘expired’ formula may also not be suitable for children as they are unable to eat. Occasionally packaging problems can cause water or bacteria to enter powdered formulations and contaminate the container. Generally powdered products can appear warped or open, powders can smell musty or moldy or there might even be mold on powder or containers.

The FDA recommends discarding cans or bags of powdered baby formula if they have been opened, exposed to temperatures over 86 degrees F (30 C), stored improperly, or if the formula has an off odor or strange taste.

If it’s close to or past the expiration date, throw it away and get a new can.

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Choosing Baby Names

The smell of old formula might give you a clue about how long it’s been sitting around! If your baby’s formula starts to have an odor or strange taste, that’s a sign that it’s time to get rid of it. Additionally, if the formula has been exposed to high temperatures or improper storage, it’s not safe to drink.

How long is prepared baby formula good for?

Prepared baby formula bottles will last in the fridge for up to 48 hours, if not opened. After that, it’s not safe to drink anymore.

The World Health Organization suggests states that all prepared formula milk should be used within two hours once opened or discarded. So remember, use fresh formula immediately on making. Think, would you drink it? If not then don’t put it in your baby’s mouth!

Can I Reheat Formula?

Yes, it is possible to reheat prepared formula that has been left out of the refrigerator for a period of time.

You can then use cooled boiled water instead and shake until smooth, before feeding your baby again. Never microwave an opened bottle or tub as this could cause hot spots inside which may burn your child’s mouth. Do not give your baby any food that has been microwaved.

Whether you pump breast milk or are using powdered formula, when heating all baby food you need to ensure that you warm food evenly. It’s best to avoid the microwave. No matter what feeding method you are using its important to keep your child healthy and keep all of baby’s food safe.

Take Away

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not old formula is safe to give to your baby, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and throw it out. There are a few signs that can indicate whether or not baby formula has gone bad, including an off smell or taste, clumping, separation of ingredients, and mold.

So, what do you need to remember about old formula?

-If it’s past the expiration date, throw it away and get a new can.

-The smell of old formula might give you a clue about how long it’s been sitting around! If your baby’s formula starts to have an odor or strange taste, that’s a sign that it’s time to get rid of it.

-Additionally, if the formula has been exposed to high temperatures or improper storage, it’s not safe to drink.

-Prepared baby formula will last in the fridge for up to 48 hours, if not opened. After that, it’s not safe to drink anymore.

-The World Health Organization suggests states that all prepared formula milk should be used within two hours once opened or discarded. So remember, use fresh formula immediately on making. Think, would you drink it? If not then don’t put it in your baby’s mouth!  

If you accidentally feed your baby unknowingly with spoiled formula, don’t panic, it’s only in rare cases will it cause harm.

Old formula is not good for your baby and it may cause him or her to get sick. If you think that he has eaten some old milk, don’t give him a new bottle right away as this will only make things worse! Call the doctor instead.

Remember always keep all of the baby’s food safe! Keep everything clean; wash your hands with soap before and after preparing food for your child. Keep all of the baby’s food at room temperature, do not leave it out on the counter where bacteria can grow. Most importantly you must use fresh formula immediately on making as this is when it’s most nutritious!

If you have any other questions about old milk or anything else regarding new mommyhood, the birth of your baby or breastfeeding please contact me.

I will be happy to help you with anything related!  If you are looking for help with formula feeding twins check out my post on formula feeding twins.