Is It OK To Use Half Scoops of Formula?
If your baby isn’t finishing their bottles, and you find yourself pouring unused formula away, it might seem to make sense to try and make a slightly smaller bottle using half scoops.
The same is true if they’re draining, say, a 4oz bottle, but aren’t ready for 6oz yet. Since most brands specify 1 scoop per 2oz of water, can you use half a scoop to make just 1 extra oz of formula? (Check out the chart on this page to see scoop sizes for European organic brands.)
This is almost certainly a bad idea. Formula measurements need to be precise to provide the perfect balance of nutrients and hydration. While you may be able to measure a rough half scoop, it’s impossible to get it exactly right.
Why perfect measures matter
One not-quite-perfect bottle isn’t usually a problem, so don’t panic if you have occasionally used a half scoop and your baby is growing well and hitting their milestones.
But if you regularly feed your little one with formula that is too thick or too watery, you risk causing serious health problems – and even long-term damage.
What happens if you add too much powder to bottles?
If you regularly add too much powder to your bottles, your baby may become dehydrated. You’ll see the evidence of this in a lack of tears, sleepiness, a sunken spot in the head, dark urine or fewer wet diapers than usual.
If you see any of these signs, get medical help straight away. Without medical help, there is a risk of kidney or brain damage.
What happens if you add too much water to bottles?
If you regularly add too much water to bottles, this can be even more risky. It means that your baby won’t be getting the right amount of nutrition to meet their needs, which can slow their growth and development.
There is also a serious risk of water intoxication. This is rare, but potentially very dangerous, causing sleepiness, vomiting and seizures.
How to not waste formula when you need odd-ounce-sized bottles
You don’t need to throw away excess formula if your baby needs a 3, 5 or 7oz bottle.
Instead of using half scoops, you could:
- Make two bottles at once to even up the amount needed: one to feed and one to refrigerate for the next feed.
- Make a whole day’s worth at once (and again, refrigerate the formula you don’t need to use immediately). It might be easier to use a pitcher and simply pour out the right amount into each bottle as you go – but keep one single pitcher solely for formula use, and make sure it is thoroughly cleaned along with your bottles.
Refrigerated formula might need to be warmed before you feed (unless your baby likes it cold). You can do this easily using a bowl of hot water or bottle warmer. You’ll find more info on how to do this here.
Not sure if your baby’s formula is right for them?
If your baby isn’t finishing bottles, or seems hungry after a feed, it could be that they’re ready for the next stage up, or might need another brand with a different balance of nutrients.