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How Long Does A Can Of Formula Last? (+ Formula Storage Tips)

How Long Does A Can Of Formula Last? (+ Formula Storage Tips)

Now that you’ve decided which brand of formula to give your baby, you need to work out how many cans to actually buy.

How long does a can of formula last, anyway?

The answer depends on the age of your baby, and whether you’re exclusively feeding her formula.

For example, a 12.5-ounce canister can last for up to 4 days, and bigger cans will last you longer.

So, how long does a can of formula last after it’s been opened?

The answer will depend on the individual manufacturer, although it’s typically one month for powder formula.

Ready-to-feed formula may be refrigerated for up to 48 hours after opening, as long as it’s kept in its original container.

Although these guidelines may seem complicated at first, especially when you put bottles into the equation, I have no doubt you’ll quickly get the hang of it!

How Long Does A Can Of Formula Last?

a can of baby formula with milk bottle and baby items on the wooden table

The cost of infant formula can really add up over time, and if your baby needs a special formula, for reflux or allergies, for example, then the price can be even higher.

Knowing how long does a can of formula last can help you budget in advance or stock up on a month’s supply of your favorite brand.

That being said, if your baby hasn’t tried formula before and you’re planning on replacing breast milk with baby formula, my advice would be to avoid stocking up until you find a brand of formula your little one likes.

This will help you avoid ending up with canisters of formula that your baby won’t drink.

How long does a can of formula last depends on the following:

• Your baby’s age.

• The size of the canister.

• Whether you are exclusively formula-feeding, or are supplementing with formula.

• Whether or not your baby is eating solid foods.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you’re feeding your baby formula full time.

Generally speaking, a canister containing 12.5 ounces of infant formula can last for up to 4 days for newborns, and up to 3 days for babies who are older than 2 months.

However, this is just a general guideline, and the number of cans you need will depend on your baby’s individual growth and development.

How Long Does A Can Of Formula Last After Opening?

mother putting a baby formula with spoon into the baby bottle

Whether you are using Similac, Enfamil, or any other brand of powder baby formula, it’s important to know how long you can use it before you need to throw it out.

RELATED: Similac Sensitive Vs Pro Sensitive: Which Formula Is Better?

Most brands will indicate this on the packaging, but the general rule of thumb is to use a can or tub of formula within one month of opening.

Make a note of the date you open each canister on your phone, the can itself, or anywhere else that’s convenient for you.

With unopened powder formula, you should always use it before the expiration date that’s printed on the packaging.

Giving your baby expired baby formula can cause diarrhea or vomiting.

If you decide to stock up, be sure to check the expiration date before purchasing to make sure the formula doesn’t expire before you have the chance to use it.

You should store it in a dry and cool area of your home, but never in the refrigerator.

I have leftover cans of baby formula. What should I do?

If you’ve decided to wean your baby off formula, but you still have some unexpired, but sealed, large cans of your favorite formula brand in the pantry, you shouldn’t just throw it out.

The best solution is to either sell it online or donate it.

I’m sure there’s a church or food bank in your community that accepts formula donations, and this way you’ll be helping a family in need!

How Long Does A Prepared Bottle Of Formula Last?

three baby bottles fulll of milk with toy behind on the white table

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a prepared bottle of baby formula can be left at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours.

However, once your baby starts drinking from the bottle, the formula should be used within an hour.

After this, you’ll need to throw it out because the contents of the bottle have come into contact with saliva.

You may prepare your baby’s bottle and then store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, as long as your baby doesn’t drink from the bottle.

As for refrigeration guidelines, the temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

If you are using ready-to-feed formula instead of powder formula, you may refrigerate any leftover formula in the original container for up to 48 hours, but if you have any leftover ready-to-feed formula in the baby’s bottle, it cannot be refrigerated.

When it comes to freezing formula, it is not usually recommended because it changes the taste and your little one may not want to drink it.

Even if frozen, formula should still be used within the specified timeframe.

This is a big difference compared to breast milk, which can be stored in the freezer for several months.

According to Happy Family Organics, you should only freeze baby purees mixed with formula.

I must point out that this is just general advice – how long baby formula lasts may depend on the individual brand, so make sure to carefully read the instructions on the packaging.

How Do I Warm Up A Bottle For My Baby?

baby milk bottle in a warm heater

Suppose that you have prepared a batch of bottles in the morning to give to your baby throughout the day.

What would be the best way to warm up a bottle of formula?

The fastest and most convenient way is to use a special warmer for baby bottles, which will have your baby’s drink ready within minutes.

In case you don’t have a bottle warmer, you can go old school – pour some warm tap water into a pot before placing the bottle in it to warm up.

If you have never tried this method before, I recommend doing it for the first time while your baby is in a good mood, and isn’t crying for a bottle!

Squeeze a few droplets onto your wrist to check that the temperature isn’t too hot or cold.

Whichever method you choose is perfectly fine, as long as you avoid warming bottles up in the microwave as they don’t evenly distribute the heat, meaning that your baby’s bottle could have hot spots in it that could burn her mouth.

Once you warm up a bottle, your baby should drink it within an hour, and it cannot be refrigerated again.

More Formula-Feeding FAQs

young mother feeding her baby with milk bottle

Deciding to formula-feed instead of breastfeeding is a personal choice for every parent, and just like breastfeeding, formula-feeding can be a little tricky until you get the hang of it.

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions for bottle-feeding parents.

How can I save money on formula?

The first step to saving money on formula is to reduce the amount that goes to waste.

Learn how much formula your baby should be drinking during each feed, and don’t prepare or warm up anything more than that.

Look out for coupons, and check if your preferred formula brand has a saving program you can sign up for.

Shopping for formula online also allows you to compare the costs on different websites – it could even be more affordable than buying formula at the store!

How often should I sterilize baby bottles?

The CDC recommends sterilizing baby bottles and other feeding accessories once per day if your child is younger than 3 months old, has a poor immune system, or was a preemie.

This can be done either with a pot of boiling water or a special device for sterilizing baby bottles.

Many bottle sterilizers also double as bottle warmers, so I definitely recommend them!

If your baby is older, healthy, and you thoroughly clean all feeding accessories, then it’s not necessary to use a sterilizer on a daily basis.

Can I mix formula and breast milk?

Absolutely! Many parents choose to either replace one breastfeeding session with formula, or mix breast milk together with formula in a bottle.

A common concern with breastfed babies is that they won’t like the taste of formula however, many infant formulas have a taste that’s closer to breast milk, so it shouldn’t be an issue to find one your baby likes!

How will I know if my baby is allergic to formula?

Unfortunately, some children are allergic to formula made from cow’s milk and require a special, hypoallergenic formula.

Symptoms of an allergy include:

• Development of a rash.

• Vomiting.

• Diarrhea.

• Stomach ache.

If you suspect your baby is allergic to cow’s milk formula, schedule a visit with your pediatrician.

young mother giving milk bottle to her baby in arms

The Bottom Line

When you’re trying to stock up, or work out your baby formula budget for the coming months, it’s important to know how long does a can of formula last.

The amount of formula you use on a daily basis will depend on your baby’s age, especially once your child starts eating solid foods.

Many of the rules and guidelines discussed above might seem complex right now, but they’re essential for the health of your baby and the prevention of illness.

I’m sure you’ll get the knack of formula preparation with time!

Don’t forget to consider getting a bottle warmer to save yourself some prep time, although you can always rely on a good old pot of warm water.

And remember – once you heat a bottle, you can’t reheat it!

I hope this article eased some of your concerns about baby formula, how long it lasts, and how to properly store it.


• Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2021, January 5. Infant Formula Preparation and Storage. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

• S., A. N.D. Storing baby food. Happy Family Organics website.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020, October 26. How to Clean, Sanitize, and Store Infant Feeding Items. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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