Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service "Food Safety At Home" podcast series, featuring topics for the safe handling, preparation and storage of meat, poultry and processed egg products. So, sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Oh, no. Just when you feel you have drifted into a blissful sleep, your precious little one is crying again. One quick way to achieve that coveted quiet? Grab a bottle of formula and head for the microwave. Even faster, maybe theres some formula left in the last bottle over by the crib.
But wait! Either one of these choices may make your baby sick. If the leftover bottle of formula stays out for more than 2 hours, dangerous bacteria can grow and give the baby a foodborne illness. Babies are in an at-risk group, meaning they can become more seriously ill from a foodborne illness than healthy adults.
And even though the microwave is a fast way to heat food, manufacturers caution not to microwave formula. Studies show that microwaves heat formula or milk unevenly. Hot spots in the liquid can scald a babys mouth and throat.
Manufacturers recommend not microwave formula in bottles with disposable plastic inserts. Hot spots in the milk may weaken the seams, causing the plastic to burst and spill on the baby.
The safest way to warm baby formula, milk, and breast milk is to set the bottle in a bowl or container of hot tap water for a minute or two. Shake the liquid to even the temperature.
Then test the milk -- but not on your wrist. Its one part of the body least sensitive to heat. Shake some liquid on the top of your hand. It should feel the same temperature as your body.
Another safe way to warm a bottle is to heat water in a pan, remove the pan from the heat, and set the bottle in it for 30 to 60 seconds. Then shake the liquid to even the temperature and test it.
As for that quick fix leftover bottle by the crib-dump it down the drain. Babies should not be fed leftover formula or milk that has been at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is over 90 °F). Harmful bacteria from the babys mouth can get into the bottle. Babies can get a foodborne illness if fed leftovers that were not handled safely.
That goes for jars of baby food, too. Dont feed the baby directly from the jar. Saliva on the spoon contaminates the uneaten food, allowing for bacteria growth even after refrigeration and reheating.
Heat solid baby foods safely by spooning from the jar only the amount of solid baby food necessary for one feeding. Heat it in an electric warming tray or warm it slowly in a pan on the stove over low heat.
Its tempting to use the microwave and you CAN for some baby foods. However, do not microwave baby food meat, poultry, meat sticks or eggs. These foods have a high fat content which attracts microwaves and can cause splattering and overheating. Dont microwave solid baby food in jars, either, because uneven heating causes hot spots.
Meatless baby foods can be transferred to a microwave-safe dish and microwaved about 15 seconds. Then stir and let the food stand for 30 seconds. Food thats baby ready should feel lukewarm, or use a food thermometer and make sure its not hotter than 90 °F.
When traveling with a baby, transport bottles and food in an insulated cooler with an ice pack or frozen gel pack so that it stays at a safe temperature of no more than 40 degrees F. When you reach your destination, reheat the food or formula the same, safe way you do at home
Now, heres something to watch when purchasing infant formula. Check the use-by date. Federal regulations require a "use-by" date on the product label of infant formula under FDA inspection so the formula will contain the full amount of nutrients listed. Formula must pass through an ordinary bottle nipple. If stored too long, formula can separate and clog the nipple.
Do not buy or use infant formula after its "use-by" date.
Be Food Safe! for that precious little one.
For more information on baby food safety, go to
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