Baby formula has been put under the spotlight over the years due to the possible presence of cronobacter which can be deadly in infants. Cronobacter causes sepsis and meningitis and leading authorities are particularly concerned about infants who contract the infection.
While cronobacter, formerly called Enterobacter sakazaki, can survive under very dry conditions, it usually needs water to thrive. Premature infants and those with immune system issues should be fed formula sold in liquid form to avoid the risk of cronobacter.
Breastfeeding is one way to avoid the risk of such an issue but that is not always the case for many reasons.
If you are feeding your baby formula, then it is imperative to wash your hand prior to mixing formula, use sterilized bottles, always follow the directions on the label and most importantly, use cooled boiled water when preparing bottles of infant formula.
What does cooled boiled water mean?
Cooled boiled water refers to water which has been boiled and cooled. After a period of 30 minutes (no cooler than 70 degrees), water is then safe to mix and consume. Formula made using this method will need to be consumed immediately to avoid any cronobacter growth.
If a bottle of formula has been stored in the refrigerator and needs to be reheated, the WHO recommends re-warming the bottle in a container of warm water. Please try to avoid microwave use as it can heat unevenly and scald your baby’s mouth.
For those planning on travelling with their babies, the WHO advises, “If your trip is longer than two hours, you may not be able to keep the pre-prepared feeds cold. In this case, you should prepare feeds as you need them. Bring individual portions of powdered formula with you in a cleaned and sterilized container, and prepare feeds as normal using boiled water that has been cooled to no less than 70ºC.”
The NHS in the UK offers similar advice:
“Leave the water to cool in the kettle for no more than 30 minutes. This will ensure it stays at a temperature of at least 70C. Water at this temperature will kill any harmful bacteria. Remember to let the feed cool a little more before you give it to your baby.”
While cronobacter is rare, if your prepared formula is over two hours old it is best to throw it out and make a fresh batch.