Everything has an expiration date and infant formula is no different, but once it does expire, the real question becomes: What to do with expired baby formula?
The best solution for what to do with expired baby formula, is to either put it in the trash, use it for gardening projects, or donate it to an animal shelter.
So why is an expired product bad? We know that some can still be usable even after the expiration date printed on them has passed, but when it comes to baby food it’s a bit different.
Depending on how the formula came, it can be something as simple as the baby food losing its nutrients, which means it no longer has the amount necessary to satisfy a baby’s nutritional requirements.
Expired baby food can develop mold in some severe cases, so you should always be vigilant and check the packaging for its expiry date to make sure it’s fit for consumption.
Even if the packaging is safe, always inspect the contents before prepping a new batch of formula to see if anything might seem off, and maintain optimal food safety measures.
Giving your little one expired formula isn’t only risky because of the lack of nutrients, but because it’s very likely to give them an infection or make them sick in general.
If you start noticing your child is feeling a bit nauseous, crying more often, or suffering symptoms like a fever, bouts of diarrhea, vomiting, or similar, your baby food might be the cause.
It’s a real waste to throw something away once you’ve bought it though, isn’t it? That’s why I’m going to show you a couple of ways you can utilize expired baby food, as well as a few tips to prevent it happening the next time.
What To Do With Expired Baby Formula
1. Donating it to an animal shelter
If the formula isn’t too far past its shelf life, and the spoilage isn’t too bad, the best option is to gather it up and donate it to an animal shelter.
It may not exactly be brand name dog or cat food, but the puppies and kittens are children too and they can benefit from these nutrients just as much as your own child.
Plus, it will feel great to help those precious little scamps in need, as well as help support your local animal shelter.
Who knows, you may have helped save the lives of some animals that could end up being your future pets, and they’ll remember the kind thing you did for them.
Be sure to check what you give them though, as even animals will have trouble eating anything that’s contaminated and the shelter itself will refuse to accept it.
2. Using it in gardening
The other surprising option for what to do with expired baby formula, is to use it in gardening. It even works for food that’s contaminated and is too far gone past its best before date.
The nutrients inside baby food can serve as compost to help your garden flourish, and is considered a sort of pseudo-fertilizer that’s organic, depending on the formula you buy.
How Long Does Formula Stay Fresh?
Depending on the type of formula you are using, the expiration date may vary.
In the case of powdered baby formula, it’s good for about a year when unopened, but that estimated time can go down fast if you leave it out in the open air for too long. Make sure to follow all storage instructions to the letter.
That said, this isn’t usually an issue as your baby is likely to go through the entire thing quite quickly, just don’t buy too much at once and you should be good to go.
If you buy ready to feed infant formula, or make batches of prepared formula in advance, you should be aware they are very likely to go bad within 24 hours, even in prime storage conditions like a fridge or freezer.
If you leave it out at room temperature, or worse, in high humidity and high temperatures like the hotter months, the formula mix will spoil even faster.
Let’s be honest, nobody wants to drink milk that’s been sitting out in the open for a few hours either, because it will likely have spoiled even if the formula brand is of the highest quality you can find in stores or on Amazon, like Enfamil or Similac.
Remember, unlike with powder formula, any you have prepared isn’t usable for donations to animal shelters or similar, so don’t be afraid to toss it out if it has developed a funky odor.
Always be sure to wash the baby bottle immediately after use, because you don’t want any of it to linger and contaminate future batches.
What To Do To Prevent Baby Formula From Expiring
To avoid having to wonder what to do with expired baby formula in the first place, you should take some preventative measures so you don’t lose money for no reason.
The methods mentioned above all work, but chances are that you don’t have a garden in which to use the expired infant formula or a nearby animal shelter.
1. Make sure to look at the expiration date before buying
Similarly to other food products, if you go to a retailer to buy your food, always make sure to check the packaging for the expiration date before buying formula.
It’s the best way to avoid accidentally getting formula that’s close to going past its shelf life.
This might be a bit harder if you’re buying from online retailers like Amazon or Ebay, in which case you should make sure the formula brand in question offers returns/refunds if there’s faulty packaging, contamination, or an expired product.
2. Store the formula properly
Once you have your formula, the next step is to make sure it’s properly stored.
The best thing to do is follow the standard storage procedure of keeping it somewhere indoors in a dry, cool place. A pantry is usually the best choice.
It’s important to note that the fridge isn’t a dry place, so avoid storing it there, especially as the formula is likely to get mixed in with the rest of the produce in the fridge, and this will ruin the baby formula.
Once you open it, ensure the lid is kept tightly closed before being stored away to prevent any aerial contamination.
If your formula came in a bag, I suggest getting a clothespin or something similar made especially for storing food products to seal the hole and keep the product as fresh as possible.
3. Once opened, use the formula up quickly
Don’t open multiple packs of formula at once. Use each one up before opening another. This way you’ll minimize the chances of spoilage.
While they’ll stay fresh for a while after being opened and stored properly, even some of the highest quality formulas will only last, at maximum, the duration of the month of opening the package.
Even so, try not to wait until the very last day of the month to use the formula up, because you never know what might happen to it even if you take all the precautionary measures.
4. Don’t buy in bulk
While it might seem cheaper in the long run, doing this makes it very likely that you end up reaching the expiration date printed on the cans, which increases the chances of one of them ending up contaminated or going bad.
Stick to buying smaller quantities, which you know your child will be able to get through over the course of a week or two, and resupply when necessary.
5. Don’t leave prepared formula out in the open
Much like #3, once you’ve prepared the formula, give it to your baby the moment it’s ready.
Don’t let it linger out in the open because you might forget about it, which will just end up spoiling or contaminating it. This might even ruin the baby bottle itself.
6. Consult with your pediatrician
For professional and personalized advice, I suggest getting in contact with your pediatrician, family doctor, or any other qualified healthcare professional to set up an appointment and talk to them about other methods of preventing baby formula from expiring.
They’ll be able to offer you solid advice on the matter and you should heed their words.
I know it might be hard to throw away a whole package of formula if you spot a little mold in it, but it’s safer for your baby in the long run and not worth risking his life for the sake of a few bucks.
What Does Expired Baby Formula Look Like?
Before worrying yourself about what to do with expired baby formula, you need to know how to spot it.
The most common thing is mold growing in the expired powder formula, or the powder itself looking frosted up. These are the telltale signs of contamination, and the package in question should be disposed of entirely.
When it comes to ready-made ones, the clearest sign is a nasty smell. Should that be the case, throw it away immediately and wash the container thoroughly afterwards.
Many people wonder what to do with expired baby formula, and don’t realize that it still has uses despite having run past its best before date.
While it might not be good for feeding to your kids anymore, you can still donate the package to your local animal shelter to help feed all the hungry kittens, puppies, and other baby animals if the formula in question isn’t too far gone.
They’ll be really thankful for it!
There’s also the great, albeit unproven, option of using it as fertilizer for your plants, as infant formula contains many of the same minerals and nutrients that plants feed off of to grow tall and healthy.
Whatever the case may be, make sure to always keep an eye out for any signs of anything off in the formula, and be sure to store it properly to avoid a stomach infection or worse.
Finally, if you do notice that something seems off with your child, the likely cause could be the formula in question, so don’t hesitate to call upon your friendly pediatrician or any other healthcare worker to help diagnose your child and find the root cause of the problem.
It’s not something too hard to manage, and it’ll become second nature soon enough, but don’t beat yourself up if something slips past the radar because nobody is perfect.
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