Many breast-feeding moms find it helpful to freeze expressed milk for times when they are away from their babies. Because of the easy-to-prepare nature of infant formula, though, the need to freeze it does not arise very often. But what happens if you’ve prepared more than your baby can consume in a day? What if you’ve opened a can of formula but know you won’t be able to use it before it goes bad? Here’s the scoop on freezing infant formula.
It is usually recommended that powdered formula be used within a month of opening the can. In most cases, this is easy to do. If you are supplementing breast milk with formula or if you accidentally have two cans opened at once, you may find yourself nearing the 1-month deadline with formula to spare. Unfortunately, powdered formula cannot be frozen because it can change the composition of the formula, causing it to not mix well with water.
Concentrated liquid formula is only good for 48 hours in the refrigerator once opened. Though it usually comes in smaller portions, you may occasionally have an instance when you have more opened than you can use in this time frame. Like powdered formula, though, concentrated liquid formula cannot be frozen. When thawed, it tends to separate, leaving an oily layer on top that will not mix back into the rest of the formula or mix with water.
Formula that is ready to feed or formula that has been prepared at home should not be frozen, either. Like the other types of formulas, the composition of ready-to-feed formula will change when frozen and may result in separation when thawed. Fortunately, ready-to-feed formula is packaged in quantities small enough to use in a day or two.
If you have already fed (or tried to feed) your baby previously frozen formula, you do not have to worry about nutrition or safety. Although freezing any type of infant formula is not recommended, it is important to note that freezing does not affect the nutritional quality or the safety of the formula. It may, however, alter the taste and consistency of the product, rendering it unappealing to your baby.
If you find that you just can’t use up an open container of formula in the recommended time frame, you may want to consider switching formula types or packaging. For instance, if you consistently have unused concentrated formula leftover, think about switching to powdered, which lasts longer. If you are already using powdered formula, purchase it in single-serving packets–an ideal solution for the breastfed infant who occasionally drinks a supplemental bottle of formula.