How Long Does A Box Of Formula Last? 6 Key Factors

Gone are the days where the absence of breast milk could hinder the proper nourishment of a baby. Some mothers are unable to breastfeed due to constraints like health complications and a myriad of others.

But this is no cause for alarm because the baby formula has come to the rescue. They can provide as many nutrients as your baby needs.

In this article, we answer your question of how long does a box of formula lasts along with other formula feeding-related questions.

Advantages of Baby Formula

Baby formula has a lot of benefits that your child’s body and overall health would be grateful for. Below are some advantages of baby formula.

  1. It is Flexible: Baby formula doesn’t require any rules or specific guidelines. You can always feed your baby when you want and how you want. Tell me, what’s more, beautiful than that?
  2. It is Supplemental: It has extra calories and nutrients that are needed for your baby’s growth. It can supplement breast milk if your baby isn’t getting enough from you. It can also help boost the blood sugar of your baby, solve jaundice issues and help with dehydration.

How Long Does A Box Of Formula Last?

When you get a box of formula, you would naturally expect it to stay for some time and when it doesn’t stay for the estimated period, it is annoying.

There are so many factors that would affect our answer to this question, and each would be discussed below;

1. Size and Volume of Box/Can

This is usually the first and most obvious factor in determining how long does a box of formula can last. Larger formula cans last longer than smaller ones. And they may cost less than the smaller cans ounce for ounce.

However, you must be cautious of the expiration dates and shelf-life when buying large containers of formula. Once a larger can of the formula is opened, powder formula needs to be used within 1 month.

Liquid and ready-to-feed formulas should be put in the refrigerator and fed within 48 hours. Any leftover formula should be thrown away after its shelf life or expiration date has passed.

2. Nature of Formula

 It is very normal to see that a liquid is more packed than a powder of whatever product. Powdered formulas are usually more affordable, are less packaged than liquid especially when they are placed in big sachets. This is so because if the liquid formula is even slightly mishandled, all will be lost.

In this case, the liquid formula would last longer than the powdered one, with no particular difference in time, except when mishandled. This makes most parents go for the liquid formula.

3. The Time Factor

This has to do with the time the formula is being kept aside, after being prepared.

Studies show that the powdered formula after being prepared, can last for 2 hours before it is given to the child, while the liquid one can stay, and even be refrigerated for at most, 48 hours.

Pediatricians recommend finishing a bottle within an hour, once it has been served, no matter the state from which it was prepared, because harmful bacteria can multiply in it, thus deteriorating the formula’s state, and causing harm to babies later on, especially if this is being repeated over time.

4. Body Weight

Unlike your milk which usually changes in composition and volume to meet up with your baby’s nutritional needs, you will need to double up or lower the amount of formula you give your baby with each feed to ensure you offer them the right nutrition as they continue their growth and development.

Here’s a feeding sample chart for 0-12 months

Newborn: 1-2 ounces per feed, for every 8-12 times each day

1-2 Months: 2-4 ounces per feed, for every 6-8 times each day

2-4 Months: 5-6 ounces per feed, for every 5-6 times each day

4-6 Months: 6-8 ounces per feed, for every 4-6 times each day

6-9 Months: 7-8 ounces per feed, for every 3-4 times each day

9-12 Months: 7-8 ounces per feed, for every 3 times each day

From the chart, you can see that the amount and frequency at which a baby feeds usually changes as they grow. Older babies will consume more formula at each feed but will also feed less frequently than younger babies.

5. Refrigeration

Indeed, whatever is refrigerated stays longer, maintaining its original form. Refrigeration can help to extend the shelf life of the box of formula, when not opened, and when opened, as mentioned in the second point above, it can last 48 hours.

6. Heating

In the past, heating the leftovers of formula and allowing it to cool and then be given to the baby, was a norm. It helps the formula last longer. Now, it is found that heating is very bad for the baby.

It can lead to scalding of the baby’s mouth and can kill the useful substrate in the formula. Heating though is not entirely wrong especially if it is a fresh one, intended for a baby that likes warm milk.

Read Also: What To Do With Leftover Formula

How Long Does a Box of Formula Last: The Verdict

After going through these factors, you’d discover that there is no fixed time frame which a box of the formula is designated to last as there are many things that influence it. But on average, a box of formula lasts for two days.

Keep in mind, as your child grows, the dietary requirement changes. Therefore the nature of the formula whether liquid or powdered will also play a huge factor in how long your supply of formula lasts.

You may notice that the same box of formula you just bought may not last you longer as the same box did the last time.

If you decide to switch to breastfeeding while formula feeding or your baby begins eating solid food earlier, you will notice that you suddenly have an over-supply of formula.

Read Also: 13 Best Formulas That Taste Closest To Breast Milk

Pros And Cons of Formula Feeding

hungrier formula


  1. You can share the feeding responsibility: As a mother, it isn’t easy to ensure your baby is well-fed all the time, even when you are busy with work. Formula feeding solves this issue as your partner can help you feed and even the babysitter. Plus, you don’t have to go through the stress of preparing it for whoever will be responsible for your baby’s feeding at a particular time.
  2. Comfort: By choosing formula feeding, there will be no discomfort that comes with breastfeeding, back pain for example, or breast milk leakage. Also, your schedule will be flexible; as you do not have to pump ahead of time or worry about sudden changes in your schedule.
  3. The formula gives you information on how much your baby is eating: This is so because its composition is fixed, unlike breast milk which varies in composition from time to time.
  4. Makes baby fuller: Formula takes a longer time to digest and because of this, your baby would be fuller for a longer period, meaning less time feeding.


  1. Baby Formula is expensive: This is unfortunate, because your baby will likely need the formula for its first year, and if your baby has an allergy, the cost could go higher.
  2. You’d be judged: This was mentioned in the second introductory paragraph. And like we said, it shouldn’t bother you so long as your child is healthy and you are satisfied with your decision.
  3. Health: It is true what we said; that a baby’s formula is identical to breast milk, in terms of nutrients. But here is the drill. Breastfed babies are at a lower risk of developing infections and being hospitalized. This is so because, during breastfeeding, the mother’s antibodies are passed on to the baby, to boost its immune system.
  4. Harder to digest: Formula is also harder for a baby to digest, causing gas to build up in the baby’s stomach and cause a stomach upset. Also, health-wise for the mother, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and the like.
  5. Time sapping: When it comes to taking care of babies, hygiene is very important. For busy moms, you must make out time to take good care of your baby as this is very important since the baby’s immune system is still developing. Also, there is so much time spent on preparing when you are about to leave your house.

Read Also:Enfamil vs Similac vs Nan Pro

Pro Tips For Using Baby Formula

formula powder

As a formula feeding mom, preparing, storing, and serving formula needs special care. You should keep these safety tips in mind to ensure the safety of your baby.

Read the Label

As a formula feeding mom, the first thing you must do is study the formula label. You’ll find a proper guidelines on how to store, prepare and dilute the formula, along with tips for safe handling of the product.

If you decide to use powdered formula for your baby whose immune system is still developing, make sure you follow the CDC’s preparation guidelines.

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Make sure all unopened formulas are kept in a cool dry place with the lid sealed. The CDC advise parents not to store unopened formula in:

  • Vehicles
  • Garages
  • Outdoors

Practice Safe Handling

When preparing formula for your baby, make sure you follow this safety guideline:

  • Make sure you wash your hands and workspace before preparing bottles
  • Make sure you wash baby feeding bottles in hot soapy water and do not forget to sterilize them using a microwave or plug-in steamer before use.
  • Avoid using the microwave to warm baby formula. Doing this can result in uneven temperature in the baby bottle which could burn your baby.

Prepare Formula Based on How Often Your Baby Feeds

Some parents may decide to mix bottles for the whole day; this could pose the risk of bacterial contamination. The best suggestion is to find a safe middle ground.

It’s best advised to pre-measure formula and water and mix the two when the time is right. If your baby feeds every 3-4 hours, you need approximately 6-8 bottles each day.

When in Doubt, Discard!

As a formula-feeding mom, you should always follow your instincts. Avoid being too economical trying to save a few dollars. Discard the formula especially when in doubt and make a new batch with a neatly sanitized bottle.

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Do you now see that the question, how long does a box of formula last, has no fixed answer? It is mostly dependent on you and your baby’s feeding pattern. We hope this article teaches you what you need to know about baby formula and its intricacies.