Baby formulas are so expensive, and no wonder why you don’t want to throw away the expired baby formula. No, worries! Here is the best usage of expired baby formula other than disposing of it.
It costs an arm and leg when you are feeding your baby formula. And it even gets more expensive if you are using organic baby formula.
So, when your expensive baby formula is past the expiration date, you wonder: what to do with expired baby formula?
Whether it is a baby formula or baby food, you do not want to use anything past expiration. The simple reason is that babies are still in a developing stage, and their immune systems are yet to mature. So, anything of suboptimal quality may not be suitable for their health.
If you have expired baby formula powder sitting in your home, you might want to donate it to an animal shelter, use it for your gardening projects, give yourself a milk bath, or make milk paint. And if the expired formula powder still passes the smell and taste test, you can use it for cooking purposes (not for the baby, though!).
However, before you start exploring alternative use of expired formula powder, inspect them visually, smell them, and taste them to see whether they are good for any other use. An expired formula may start growing mold if moisture has been trapped in the container, and in that case, you need to trash it.
But if your expired formula powder still passes visual, smell, and taste tests, then there are several ways you can use your expired baby formula powder.
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Can baby formula Expire?
Everything has an expiry date, including baby formula. Baby formula comes with an expiration date or use by date as an indication of shelf life for the unopened box.
Most formulas are dairy-based, and even though they contain preservatives, they will start to deteriorate past the expiration date. This is because the essential nutrients and vitamins will start to break down, and there are chances of bacterial growth (if the opened formula is not stored and handled adequately).
The unopened pack of baby formula is good for at least a year. However, once the formula container is open, it should be used within a month. And prepared formula should be used within 48 hours if refrigerated or 2-3 hours if at room temperature.
The use-by date or expiration date on baby formula means you need to use the formula by the date in order to consume food at its highest quality. It does not necessarily mean it is unsafe to eat if it is past the date.
However, for baby formula, the expiration date or use-by date is not an indicator of the formula’s safety. Rather, once the formula past the expiration date, the nutrients in the formula will start to deteriorate. And since the formula is the only source of nutrients for infants, it is best to feed them the best quality formula.
So, the baby formula does expire, and it is best to use them up within a month once the box is opened or within the date on a label if it is the unopened formula.
How do you tell if Baby formula is Bad?
If you are suspicious about the quality of the formula, you need to make sure that formula is not expired by simply doing some tests.
Sometimes, the powdered formula goes bad if it is not stored or handled properly, even before the expiry date or before the month after opening.
The powdered formula goes bad if it has caught moisture while preparing a bottle for your baby. That’s why it is important to maintain hygiene practices to storing and handling formulas.
If you are suspicious about the quality of the opened formula, look for a sign of spoilage. Here are some tests you can do to find out whether the formula has gone bad.
- Smell the prepared formula bottle before feeding your baby. It will smell off.
- You can also try a prepared formula. It will taste sour.
- Formula gone bad may not mix properly with water. You might see ingredients separating.
- Clumping in powder formula – Moisture trapping in an opened formula box can cause powder formula to clump up. And moist formula will grow mold in it. So, look out for clumpy powder formula.
- The discoloration or mold in the powder.
- The seal is broken.
- The lid of the formula is bulging.
Sometimes, a formula can go bad before the expiration date if not stored properly, so it is always safer to check.
What to do with Expired Baby Formula?
While you never want to intentionally feed your baby expired formula, there are other ways you can use expired formula rather than dispose of it as food waste.
1. Exchange it for a new formula
Most stores will allow you to exchange or return baby formula if there is a defect or if it is sold after the expiration date. If you have the receipt, they will likely exchange the expired formula for the new one.
Check with your store if you have just bought the expired formula and need to return it.
2. Donate it to an Animal shelter
Like babies, baby animals need nutrients, too, and your expired container of formula could provide nutrients to sick animals at the shelter.
If you have expired formula that is not spoiled and can still be used, donate it to an animal shelter. They will use the formula to feed the baby animal that needs the essential nutrients.
According to USDA, the expiration date or use-by date on formula or any product indicates the product’s shelf life and does not mean that it is unsafe to eat past the expiration date.
So, the expired formula is still good for our furry friends, given that it is not spoiled. And the animal shelter will appreciate the donation of expired formula.
3. Use it in Your Garden
Use expired powder formula or liquid formula as fertilizer in your garden.
Here you do not need to worry even if your formula is way past the expiration date. Instead, the nutrients in baby formula serve as compost for your plant and help them grow.
If you look at the ingredients of baby formula, you will notice most of them are plant nutrients. And the impressive thing is baby formula has a higher amount of calcium which you will never find in commercial fertilizer. So, the best way to use expired baby formula is to use it as a fertilizer for plants in your backyard.
4. Milk bath
A milk bath could be another option to use up the expired formula, given that they are not spoiled or moldy.
A breast milk bath is very popular among mothers, and those moms who are not breastfeeding can still achieve the soothing benefit of a milk bath with powder formula.
A milk bath will leave your baby’s skin less dry and soothe skin with fat and proteins in the formula.
Most commercial milk bath products contain dry milk powder as an ingredient to use powder formula as a milk bath for yourself or a baby.
To draw a formula milk bath, add 1/3 to 2/3 cup of powdered formula into warm bathwater.
5. Make a non-toxic Paint
Kids love to paint, and why not make non-toxic paint out of expired formula?
Mix expired formula (do not use contaminated or moldy formula) with water and add some food coloring, and you have non-toxic paints for your kids.
6. Make Baby Formula Soap
If you can make leftover breastmilk soap, why can you not use expired powder formula to make a soap bar?
Using powder formula, you can make milk proteins, vitamins, and minerals-rich soap. The nutrients in formula milk soap will help keep your baby’s skin or your skin soft, smooth, and fair.
Many milk soap recipes use powdered milk. Formula powder can be added to the soap base at the ratio of 1-2 tablespoons per pound of soap. To achieve the best result, you want to make a slurry of formula milk in water before adding it to your soap base.
How to prevent the baby formula from expiring?
If your baby is formula-fed, you know how expensive they are. It can end up costing $1000 to $2000 a year. So, you want to take every step to not waste money by throwing away the can of formula because they are expired.
Once powdered formula passes the expiration date or gets contaminated because of improper handling, you can’t feed that to the baby. Instead, it must be disposed of or used alternatively, but in the end, you will have to purchase new formula to feed your baby.
So, here are a few tips to prevent the formula from expiring.
Check the expiration date when buying
Formula and baby food are the two things that you never want to buy without checking the expiry date. Unfortunately, there are cases where store shelves are full of expired formulas, and people are purchasing without checking the expiration date.
So, do not trust your store and get in a habit of checking the expiry date before buying formula, so you do not need to deal with – the ‘what to do with expired baby formula’ problem.
Do not buy formula in Bulk
You never want to buy formula in bulk. It is okay to get two containers of powder formula but do not get ten formulas at a time to save money.
With bulk buying, you will not be able to keep track of the expiry date, and you will end up with an expired unopened can of formula that you can not feed your baby.
Handle open formula container with care
Once the formula container is open and in use, make sure to follow proper hygiene practices to avoid contaminating it.
Always wash your hand before making a bottle for your baby. Also, do not leave the formula spoon on the kitchen counter or sink to avoid bacterial contamination. Once you take a spoonful of formula, put it back in the formula container.
You also want to avoid touching formula with wet hands. Once moisture gets trapped in a formula container, it will start clumping up and growing mold.
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Use it up within a month
The most powdered formula should be used within a month from the date you have opened the formula container. So, it is not a good idea to open multiple packs of formula at a time.
The formula does not last a month when it is the only food for your baby. But once you start solid, make sure you finish the open formula within a month.
Store them properly
Whether you have opened or unopened formula containers, store them in a cool and dry place. Keep them away from direct sunlight or humid spots in your kitchen or pantry.
Also, storing formula in a fridge is not a good idea as the fridge is not a dry place. Instead, you can store them in your pantry, where you keep other dry food products.
You also want to make sure that the lid of the formula can is tightly closed after making a formula bottle for a baby.
Can Expired Formula Make Baby Sick?
Formulas are made with a dairy base, and they will deteriorate over time. Feeding expired powdered, or liquid formula most likely won’t make your baby sick.
However, the major concern why you DO NOT want to feed expired formula to your baby is that nutrients in the baby formula will start to break down after the expiration date.
If you feed expired formula to your infant, they won’t get essential vitamins and minerals from their bottle. And because the formula is the only source of essential nutrients for your infant, avoid feeding them expired formula.
If you have accidentally fed your baby expired formula, they won’t get sick. But you should not feed them expired formula on a regular basis (just because they are not getting sick) to avoid nutrient deficiency.
If the formula is expired and exposed to bacteria, the chances of your baby getting sick with expired formula are still there. Unhygienic practice while handling formula can cause bacterial contamination.
Feeding contaminated expired formula to a baby can cause foodborne illness – fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration in your baby.
There is a case of a baby getting sick after drinking expired formula that their mom bought from a store. So, if you have accidentally fed your baby expired formula, keep an eye on your baby. Contact your pediatrician if the baby has fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.
How to dispose of Expired formula?
Once you have expired formula, there is no use in feeding your baby.
If the formula is expired and gone bad or growing mold in it, it is best to dispose of them. To dispose of expired formulas, throw them in your compost bin along with other food waste. You can also use expired, gone bad formula for gardening projects in your backyard as compost.
However, do not use an expired formula in indoor plants as they may start growing mold or attract bugs or flies.
But if you have expired formula, which is still good to use, do not dispose of. Instead, you can use them for milk baths or making milk soap.
What to do with expired prepared formula?
Expired prepared formula should be disposed of or dumped in your outdoor gardening project.
The leftover formula that your baby did not finish should also be disposed of right away. Because the formula is milk-based, they grow bacteria really quickly.
Once your baby has licked or drank from a bottle, bacteria are introduced into the bottle, and they are no good for reheating or feeding your baby.
Can you freeze baby formula?
Making a bottle for your baby is so easy that you do not need to freeze baby formula. Freezing baby formula is not recommended as freezer temperature makes changes in components of baby formula, making it unpleasant for the baby to consume.
Also, freezing and thawing frozen formula will degrade the essential nutrients and alter its taste.
How long can you use baby formula after the expiration date?
Once the formula passes the expiration date, do not use it to feed your baby. The opened formula should be used within one month. So, after one month, you should not be using an expired formula to feed your baby.
If formula still looks good and is not contaminated, you can donate them to an animal shelter or use it for a milk bath or making milk soap, or for gardening projects.
How long is the formula good for after Mixing?
As a general rule, once powder formula is mixed with water to feed your baby, the bottle would last 2 hours at room temperature if it is not heated or the baby hasn’t drunk from it.
However, read the label on the brand you are using because some brands (Similac and Enfamil) suggest using it within one hour at room temperature.
An unused, unheated bottle of formula can last 24 hours in the refrigerator. You can mix formula in water for your baby and refrigerate it for a day. Then, when your baby needs it, take a prepared formula out and warm it up as you need.
For formula-fed babies, the only source of nutrition is formula within the first 6 months. So, you do not want to compromise by feeding them expired formula. There are other ways you can utilize expired baby formula if you do not want to dispose of it.
If expired formula passes your smell and test taste, you can donate it to an animal shelter, draw milk for yourself, and even make a soap with it.
But if the expired baby formula is gone bad or moldy, it is best to dispose of or use it for outdoor gardening projects.
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