what to do with expired baby formula

What to do with expired baby formula

As a first time mom, it is perfectly natural to frantically make preparation for the new arrival. In that process, parents buy, receive, and stock up on items that may have expired, to begin with, or end up expiring before they get around to using them. There is always the question of what to do with expired baby formula. Do you dispose of it or not? Also, with so many forms of expiry dates, it’s hard to find out and adhere to the one relevant to your baby.

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In this article, you will learn about what to do with an expired formula and how to recognize it from now on.

What to do with expired baby formula

Most moms often ask “Does baby formula expire?” and “can you use expired formula?”. The truth is, the shelf life of baby formula is usually within a year. The nutrient content within the formula breaks down after this period. This is the time it is called expired formula and experts strongly advise against using it after this time. So, the expired formula is not ok to use for your baby.

Note that the things you can do with expired formula are limited, however, there are uses that people have been able to make of them, they include:

Expired baby formula uses

Now that you know that baby formula can expire and that you can’t use it for your baby once it expires, the question is what do you do with baby formula after the expiration date? Below are some uses for expired infant formula.

1.     Donating

Obviously, this donation does not refer to offering it to hospitals or families that can’t avoid it. This is because of the immense role played by a child’s early diet in his overall development. Expired baby formula is no longer optimal to perform such a task. Thankfully, however, some animal shelters take the formula for young puppies and kittens. This is to be done cautiously, not all formulas can be useful for the animal and a veterinarian should be involved in the process to ensure that the formula doesn’t eventually do any harm.

2.     Gardening     

You can use the expired baby formula as fertilizer instead of just throwing it out. Some families have reported seeing a growth spike in their crops after administering the formula. Although this has not been supported by verifiable scientific work, it shows substantial promise. Baby formula does contain a lot of minerals and essential metals and could in fact be as good for crop growth and gardening as some fertilizer.

3. Animal feed

Expired baby formula is suitable for animal feed. Research carried out by Penn State University showed that outdated formulas can be given to calves and other baby animals. With this, get in touch with a local beef producer to give them the expired baby formula.

Only some individual has confirmed these methods, more scientific research and evidence is needed before such practices can be made mainstream. However, until then, use the methods above, or when in doubt throw it out.  

What to do with prepared expired formula

With the prepared formula, the process is a little different. Baby formula is considered expired after two hours of preparing it and exposure to the elements. Continued usage puts the baby at risk of bacterial infections, which is very dangerous for weak babies or immuno-compromised babies. Below are things you can do if you accidentally give your baby expired infant formula.

1.         Focus on the problem

If your baby has ingested expired formula, then the best way to tackle that is to stay calm. Being calm and collected opens the path to step two, which is to seek direction from professionals on how best to treat the child.

2.         Discard the expired formula immediately  

There is no point in keeping around something that may potentially harm your baby. Throw it out immediately. The general rule is that a bottle of formula will last for 2 hours at room temperature if it is not touched or heated. It can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before use. Formula made from concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

3.         Ensure that it doesn’t get contaminated during storage

This you can do by making sure that everything that is likely to contaminate the baby’s meal is kept very far away from the formula during storage. Being in close contact with contaminants can affect the taste and expiry time after preparation.

4.         Always check for signs of an infection   

Be vigilant, it is possible that you will notice a new behavior or rise in your baby’s temperature because of an infection. Catching it quickly ensures that your baby gets the best care possible in a good time and that any damage done is easily reversible.  Signs of infection include:

a.     Vomiting

It is usually accompanied by a fever and it is the body’s way of taking out the toxins and detoxifying the system.

b.     Diarrhea

This is also a detoxification technique. Coupled with vomiting, it causes dehydration, weakness, and reduced appetite.

c.     Make sure you label

The date and time of the preparation were made to determine its expiry time. It also keeps your baby safe because you will know which formula to use first and which one to use last to prevent infection and waste.

Below are the steps you need to take to detect an expiry formula before you buy them.

Steps to detect an expiry formula Date

The first thing you need to know is that feeding a baby expired formula is a big no! Even if you’re worried about food wastage, you can’t risk handling the consequences of feeding a baby on expired formula. It gets even more confusing when you notice that most food does not really show the expiry date. They show the ‘best by’ dates but thankfully, an exception is made for baby formula.

Best by date

The best by date shows you the window or period within which that product or formula is at its highest quality. It doesn’t indicate that the product goes bad after that date, however; it shows the product is at its best on that date, and immediately after then the quality goes down.

Sell by date

This date is for the benefit of the retailers, it informs them of what date they should distribute the products to the public to avoid spoilage. In theory, all products that were not sold on their sell by date should be taken off the shelf.

Use by date

The use-by date is your calendar. This means it is the date you work towards when using any product for the highest quality. It is advised that you exhaust the usage of products with this stamp before that date.

Finally, you can always contact any health organizations close to you or your hospital for any suggestions they may have for you and your baby and to ensure that the baby is getting the best.

Why does formula expire after 30 days?

Because of the different factors that affect its quality and safety, the formula normally expires after 30 days. The nutritional value of the formula may deteriorate with time, making it less effective at giving babies the nutrition they need. The growth of bacteria and other microorganisms can increase the danger of contamination and possible health problems when they are exposed to air and moisture.  Manufacturers specify an expiration date as a rule for customers to follow in order to guarantee the formula’s quality and safety.

Does powdered formula go bad in heat?

Because it can be at risk to go bad in heat, the powdered formula needs to be properly maintained to keep its quality. High temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of the formula and increase the danger of bacterial growth by accelerating the breakdown of nutrients. The powder may bulk up or clump under extreme heat, which will prevent it from dissolving correctly. It is advised to keep powdered formula out of the sun and high heat in a cool, dry location.

Expired Baby Formula FAQ

Does baby formula expire?

Yes, the baby formula does expire. The manufacturers of the baby formula indicate the expiry date on it. If it is open, it has an expiry date of 30 days. If it is a prepared formula, it should be used within 1 hour if outside, but 48 hours if inside the refrigerator.

Can you use expired formula?

An expired formula is not useful for your baby. You can donate it to animal shelters and use it for gardening purposes.

Does baby formula expire after opening?

Baby formula expires within 30 days after opening.

Does baby formula expire if unopened?

Yes. Baby formula can expire if left unopened for a year i.e. 12 months.

Is expired formula safe?

No. Expired formula is not save after the expiry date. Although, it has not been reported that a baby got sick after taking expiry formula, you still need to be careful and take are of your baby.

Can I exchange expired formula?

Yes, you can exchange expired formula for a new one. But before you do that you need to know the store you bought it from and their expired baby formula policies. This will tell you whether you can return it or not.

Can you sell unused baby food?

Yes, you can sell unused baby food and make some cool cash. Preferrable places to sell will be on Craiglist, Mom groups on Facebook that trade and sell kids items, eBay, and OfferUp.


Baby formulas do expire and you cannot use them for your baby after the expiration date. But what about expired ready to feed formula? Can you use it for a baby? No. You cannot give your baby expired ready to feed formula for any reason. However, there are things you can do with expired infant formula such as a fertilizer and donating it to animal shelters.

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