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What is the Right Temperature for Formula?

There is no single ‘correct’ temperature for baby formula. Some little ones like their formula warmed, and others are happy to drink it cold. The right temperature is whatever temperature your baby will drink their formula at. What matters is that it’s made up safely, isn’t burning hot, and that your baby gets the nutrition they need. 

Warm or cold?

Warming a bottle makes sense to many of us. It’s often what we saw our moms do for younger siblings, or friends for their children. And, since breastmilk doesn’t come out chilled, it feels natural to feed formula at a similar level of warmth. 

For a lot of babies, milk at roughly breastmilk temperature (98.6°F – our average body temperature) is ideal, especially for those switching between breast and bottle. Newborns in particular are likely to be comforted by formula that feels as close to breastmilk as possible, as might older babies switching to formula for the first time. If you’re struggling to get your baby to accept a bottle, try getting it as close to 98° as you can – it might just help.

But some babies don’t mind cold formula, and may even prefer it. Teething babies often welcome a cold bottle to soothe their gums, much like a refrigerated teething ring. 

Once your baby is eating solid food and drinking water, they’ll probably get a lot less fussy about their formula temperature. Even if they would only take warmed formula as a newborn, when they’re used to different textures and temperatures through their food, they’ll often be happy to drink room temperature or cold formula.

Formula temperature and safety

While it doesn’t matter nutritionally what temperature your baby drinks their bottle at, it is important to make sure it’s made up safely, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll find these on every product page in our store, as well as on your formula box.

These aren’t always exactly the same, but most recommend making formula with freshly boiled water that has been cooled to around 120℉ (that usually means leaving the kettle to cool for up to 30 minutes). This kills any potential bacteria in the formula, without losing any of the nutritional value. 

120℉ is still too hot for your baby to drink, though, so you’ll need to cool the bottle a little more to get it to around 98℉ (or breastmilk temperature). You should use made-up formula within an hour, but it’s safe to keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours – meaning you can make up bottles for the day in the morning and then warm (if you need to) for each feed.

How to warm a bottle

The easiest way to warm a bottle is to use an electric bottle warmer. Some have a universal fit for your little one’s bottle, others are designed for just one brand – so check before you buy. A warmer will heat a bottle to the perfect temperature in just a few minutes.

If you’re not ready to buy a warmer (or you’re away from home), you can warm bottles almost as fast in a bowl of hot water – this takes around five minutes. If you’re away from home when you need to feed, you’ll often find that cafes and restaurants will happily help you out with this. Just make sure that you always test a few drops on the inside of your wrist, where your skin is more sensitive, before you feed. It should be warm, but not hot. 

Never warm a bottle in the microwave! It’s tempting to do this for speed, but microwaves cause pockets of high heat in milk that can easily scald a baby’s mouth. 

How to cool a bottle

If your baby prefers cold formula, you’ll need to cool down freshly made bottles. If your fridge can’t chill a bottle fast enough for your hungry baby, put it in a bowl of iced water. That’ll get the temperature down in minutes. It’s not safe to freeze formula, or to make it so cold that it numbs your little one’s mouth. 

For detailed formula prep instructions…

Browse our store for more information on formula brands, ingredients and prep instructions.

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