formula milk tin

Read about making up bottles of formula milk for your baby when you're out and about.

If you need to prepare formula to feed your little one away from home, you'll need to take with you:

  • a measured amount of formula powder in a small, clean and dry container,
  • a vacuum flask of hot water that's just been boiled and
  • an empty sterilised feeding bottle with cap and retaining ring in place.

(NHS Choices, 2017)

The vacuum flask doesn't need to be sterilised but should be clean and only used for your baby. The boiling water should kill any bacteria present in the flask. If the flask is full and sealed, the water will stay above 70°C for several hours (NHS Choices, 2017).

Find out more about preparing a bottle of formula in advance in this video


  • Make up a fresh feed only when your baby needs it. The water must still be hot (above 70°C) when you use it, to destroy any bacteria that could be present in the formula powder.
  • Remember to cool the bottle (with the lid on) under cold running water. Always test the milk temperature on the inside of your wrist before you feed it to your baby.
  • Alternatively, you could use a carton of ready-to-feed liquid baby formula when you're away from home. This is a convenient but more expensive option, and once open it will need to be stored in a fridge and used within 24 hours.
  • Ideally, a fresh feed should be made up when your baby needs it. If this isn't possible, prepare the feed at home and cool it for at least one hour in the back of the fridge. Take the formula out just before you leave and transport it in a cool bag with an ice pack and use within four hours. Use within two hours if you do not have access to a fridge or cool bag.

(NHS Choices, 2015; NHS Choices, 2016c; NHS Choices, 2017)

If you need to make up formula in advance it should be used within:

  • 24 hours if stored in a fridge
  • four hours in a cool bag with an ice pack
  • two hours at room temperature.

(NHS Choices, 2017)

This page was last reviewed in August 2018.

Further information

NCT supports all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, call our support line on 0300 330 0700, whether you are using formula milk, breastfeeding or mixed feeding. If you’re concerned about your baby’s health talk to your health visitor or GP.

NHS. (2015) Start4Life guide to bottle-feeding. Available from: [Accessed 21st November 2017]

NHS Choices (2016a) How to make up baby formula. Available from: [Accessed 21 November 2017]

NHS Choices (2016b) Sterilising baby bottles. Available from:  [Accessed 21st November 2017]

NHS Choices (2016c) Types of formula milk. Available from:  [Accessed 21st November 2017]

NHS Choices (2017) Formula milk: common questions. Available from: [Accessed 21st November 2017]

NHS Choices (2018) Bottle-feeding advice. Available from: [Accessed 21st November 2017]

NICE (2015) Clinical Guidance CG37. Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth. Available from: [Accessed 21st November 2017]

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