Sending formula to daycare for your baby is a fairly simple task, but only if you follow correct procedures. Safe clean water and sterilized bottles are two issues where some mothers come undone. The convenience of formula makes it easier for caregivers to feed your baby, but some procedures should be strictly followed to keep illness at bay.
The majority of mothers in the US prefer formula over breast milk for daycare because they view it as a win-win arrangement. Still, formula milk has its limitations that are not always considered.
Baby formula is a quick and easy solution that ensures your baby gets all the nutrition needed for healthy growth and development. However, preparing formula for daycare requires a high standard of hygiene coupled with a small timeframe for use after preparation. This grey area is often taken lightly and may affect your baby’s health and well-being.
Let’s go over how to safely prepare formula for daycare.
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The correct formula for your baby
With all the different brands and types of formula on the supermarket shelves, it can be tough deciding which one will be right for your little one.
So, who better to approach for advice than the one person who knows about your baby’s health and development needs? Your doctor, of course.
A big mistake that many moms make is to use the formula that friends use or formula that is trending on social media. Your baby is an individual, and the formula that will be best for them should cater to your little one’s nutritional and developmental needs.
Start by asking your doctor what formula will be best for your baby, and once you’ve decided on a specific brand or type, stick to it.
As your little one grows, you should always chat to your doctor about any changes you may want to make regarding formula and ready-made baby puree in the transition to solids.
Baby bottles and other formula accessories
When you first begin preparing formula for daycare, you’ll quickly notice a repetitive ritual focused on hygiene and correct measurements.
Once your baby drinks a bottle of formula and slips back into slumberland, you must discard whatever formula is left in the bottle. This must be done within one hour to prevent bacteria growth, and the bottle must be thoroughly washed before it can be used again.
In keeping up with hygiene practices, you will need enough pre-measured formula as well as sufficient bottles filled to the correct level with boiled (sterilized) water. Due to legal issues, most daycare staff will not take on the responsibility of measuring water and formula for your baby.
What you will need for daycare
Label everything. It’s important to label every item using waterproof labels with your baby’s name clearly written on each label.
Each bottle must have a protective cap that clips firmly into place, and make sure that the cap, bottle, and teat each have a label on them.
Baby bottles must be filled with the correct volume of water for every one of your baby’s feeding sessions during the day. Because babies sometimes drink a little before falling asleep again, there will be a lot of mixed formula wasted.
It’s best to have one or two extra bottles packed in just to make sure your baby can feed when hungry.
Each bottle must be matched with individual tubs containing the correct amount of powdered formula, one tub per bottle. Use plastic food-safe stacking tubs that lock into each other with a pouring spout and lid attached to the top tub.
This prevents spillage when adding the formula to the water. Simply rotate used tubs to the bottom and attach the pouring spout to the top tub filled with formula.
Separate used bottles from fresh bottles to prevent possible contamination. Store your fresh bottles filled with water in a separate cooler bag. Once a bottle has been used, it should be stored in a separate bag away from your baby’s clothes and creams.
Using a baby bag with different compartments makes this important task easy to follow. Discuss the details with your daycare.
Preparing formula for daycare
When working with baby formula, always wash your hands first and work on a clean surface.
We’ll take you through a step-by-step process showing how to prepare baby bottles for daycare:
- Boil fresh tap water or bottled water if you are not sure of the quality of your tap water.
- Allow the water to cool down to a lukewarm temperature which should take about half an hour.
- You must remember to sterilize all your baby bottles including the clip-on tops and teats. This should be a standard daily practice for the first 12 months to prevent or reduce the chance of your little one getting sick.
- Fill the sterilized baby bottles with the correct amount of water and seal them with leak-proof caps then place them in the fridge. The water must be used within 24 hours so preparing bottles in the evening for the next day will help to ease the morning rush.
- Always check the expiry date on the formula tin and make sure you stick to the recommended window of use which is usually one month after the seal on the tin has been broken.
- Instructions on the formula tin will stipulate the exact amount of powdered formula required to make up different volumes. A measuring spoon is also supplied with each tin of formula.
- Have your formula tubs ready and scoop up the formula using the provided spoon, leveling the top and making sure the spoon is filled to capacity. Add the correct number of scoops to each tub and seal them.
- You can now pre-pack your baby bag with the formula tubs, clothing and other items your baby will need for the next day.
- In the morning all you have to do is mix formula into one of your baby bottles and attach the teat and protective top so your little one has a bottle handy. Transfer the other bottles to your cooler bag but remember to pack in teats for every bottle. You’re now ready for daycare.
The formula you make in the morning is your safe bottle that will come in handy on the way to daycare, especially if you get bogged down in traffic, and your little one lets you know that it’s feeding time.
Again, remember that mixed formula is only safe for one hour after it is mixed.
Can I prepare baby formula in advance?
You should only prepare one bottle at a time because of the short one-hour timeframe of use before it is deemed spoilt. However, if you really must, then the mixed formula must be refrigerated within one hour at below 5 degrees C, extending its lifespan to 24 hours.
A better option is to purchase ready-to-drink formula, but this can be a lot more expensive.
Do I have to warm formula milk?
Formula milk that is slightly chilled or at room temperature is fine to give your baby as long as your little one doesn’t mind. Warming baby formula or breast milk helps your baby’s digestive system process the milk without using extra energy, so if you can warm the milk slightly, it actually helps your little one.
Must I have clean teats for every bottle I send to daycare?
The short answer is yes, it’s in your own best interest to have one teat for every bottle. However, it depends on what arrangement you have with your daycare and their rules.
Many daycare centers are concerned about lawsuits, so they implement rules that release them of certain responsibilities. It may cost a bit more initially, but having enough teats at hand means you can immediately discard any cracked or damaged teat—a win-win solution.
Baby formula has become a very popular feeding alternative among working mothers for obvious reasons.
Formula milk provides all the nutrition a baby needs. Still, the lack of antibodies (usually found in breast milk) makes it necessary to pay extra attention to hygiene, especially when purifying water and keeping track of the different “safe to use” time frames.
With a ritualized approach to preparing formula for daycare, feeding your baby on demand is made easy for daycare staff.
The focus on hygiene will become part of your normal daily routine, and even after the first year, you will probably still stick to making sure everything is clean and well organized for your and your baby’s sake.