Why Does Baby Formula Turn Brown? Is It Safe? (Reasons, Tips, & Solutions)

The specs in your baby’s formula that make the prepared mixtures turn brown are overcooked or caramelized specks of formula. Caused when the powder becomes overheated during the manufacturing process might appear orange, black, red, or beige. The discoloration will be visible in the final prepared product. No harmful effects are associated, and the formula is nutritionally complete and safe to consume. If discoloration is present in more than a few specs accompanied by a foul smell, the entire package may be spoiled, and discarding it may be safest.

One common notion that’s been around since time immemorial is that breast milk is the best and only source of nutrition for babies, and that’s not the case.

Breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for many newborns, but formula milk also imparts a fair share of benefits to the baby. 

Being able to formula feed is a lifesaver for many parents and their little ones.

It is convenient to prepare, and both parents can take turns feeding the baby, which gives the mother much-needed time to relax. But it isn’t free of difficulties. 

Why is my baby formula brown?

A tin can of brown powdered formula milk due to overheating in the manufacturing process.

Baby formula turning brown is either a harmless result of the heating and drying process required to make it or a foreign body that entered the formula during manufacturing or after opening the can.

In a vast majority of cases, it is the former-harmless scorched formula.

But an all-encompassing “okay” for all such strange discoloration of infant formula would be inaccurate. 

It’s the harmless scorched formula if the browning results from specs or clumps that break into coarse powder when crushed.

Also, if the specs dissolve in hot water, it is formula and nothing to worry about.

Suppose it doesn’t break up when pressed, dissolve in hot water, or smell murky or moldy. It’s a foreign particle that found its way into the can during manufacturing or after opening the formula container.

Suppose the prepared formula turns brown, i.e., a powdered formula that has been mixed with water.

In that case, mold and clamps become much more likely the culprits, especially if that formula has been left out for at least 24 hours. 

Just like Rusty Pipe Syndrome may cause brown breast milk. It occurs during pregnancy and the first few weeks after delivery when the ducts and milk-making cells in your breast grow and stretch.

Extra blood flows into your breast and sometimes leaks into your ducts, making your breast milk look brown or rusty, just like water from a rusty pipe.

This murkiness clears after a few days as more milk flows through your breasts and is no cause for alarm; therefore, it’s fine to continue feeding your baby your milk.

However, if the discoloration is present in more than a few specs or is noticeable in larger formula lumps, the entire package may be spoiled. A foul smell may also be present.

If you suspect that the formula discoloration may be something other than a simple overheating of the product during the manufacturing process, discarding it may be safest.

Tips on how to store formula milk in the refrigerator 

It’s ideally stated that you shouldn’t keep formula milk for more than 2 hours in normal conditions.

Mother writes different ways and quantities of formula milk to be stored in the fridge.

However, if there’s an inevitable situation where you have to store the feed, keep the following pointers in mind:

  •  Parents should store any prepared formula milk in the refrigerator within one hour.
  • Throw away any formula milk left by the baby in the bottle because of the potential for bacterial growth.
  • Dispose of any formula milk that has been sitting at room temperature for an hour or so.
  • Formula milk can be prepared well and stored in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Throw away any formula feed that crosses the 24-hour timeline, even in the fridge. 
  • An ideal refrigerated feed should be safe enough, but check the formula before feeding your baby within the stipulated timeline for any bacterial build-up.
  • Even if you can’t completely clean your baby’s bottle straight away, you’ll at least want to rinse it out with hot water until you can.


How do I warm my baby’s bottle?

Never use the microwave to warm baby bottles. A microwave can create dangerous hot spots in the bottle that can burn your baby’s mouth and throat.

Instead, you can run the bottle under warm or hot water for a few minutes.

You can also use portable bottle warmers or put your baby’s bottle in a pan of hot water but be sure to remove the pan from the heat source before placing the bottle.

The milk temperature should be lukewarm and not hot.

Can I prepare the formula ahead of time?

Yes. Some parents make a fresh bottle just before feeding, but most parents make and refrigerate enough formula ahead of time to use for the day.

If you prepare the formula, store it in the refrigerator, and use the mixture within 24 hours.

Do not store unmixed powder formula in the refrigerator.

Open containers of ready-made formula, concentrated formula, and formula prepared from concentrate can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

What are the disadvantages of formula feeding?

Formula lacks antibodies to protect infants against infections and diseases.

Formula milk may also cause digestive issues in some infants as it is not as easily digestible as breast milk.

Further, since water is essential in formula preparation, the formula’s safety may be compromised by unclean water in areas where clean water is not readily available.


Baby formula is not sterile; as a result, it contains all sorts of microorganisms.

Most are likely to be harmless, but there’s always the possibility that your tin of formula may contain a harmful microorganism.

If you don’t prepare, store and transport your baby’s formula correctly, you risk creating an environment perfect for such pathogens to grow and rapidly multiply.

And while the risks are relatively low, they could make your baby very sick. 

Your little bub will be formula fed for such a short period in the overall scheme of things, so take heart that you won’t have to do all this forever!

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Hello, I am Emelda from Nairobi, Kenya. They simply call me mama Lilly. A fun of long road trips and a very good cook, along with my mommy duties to a super active girl. She inspires and challenges me in equal measure, and that is how I get to share with you our journey of triumph as we grow and tag you along.

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