If you’ve ever used formula to feed your baby, you know how important it is to stay stocked up. There are few things more feared than the idea of running out of formula in the middle of a late-night feeding. Whether you’re trying to plan ahead, budget child expenses, or save money, it’s helpful to know exactly how long a can of baby formula will last.
On average, a 12.5 oz. can of baby formula should last about 3-4 days for a newborn (0-2 months old), 2-3 days for an infant (2-4 months old), and 2-3 days for a 6+ month-old. Standard (30oz) and bulk (35oz+) formula sizes will last longer and provide more value.
Keep reading to learn how to estimate how much formula you’ll need based on the age of your baby and the type of formula you buy.
How long does a container or tub of formula last?
Although there are many different types of baby formula, most major brands make about the same amount of liquid formula. All of the numbers below are based on the standard powdered formula product for each company type. If you use more specialized formula (organic, anti-colic, soy-based, etc.) you can easily calculate your own estimate for how long your formula will last.
In general, the smallest portions of baby formula that you can buy (around 12 oz by weight) will only last a few days for babies of all ages. An entire month’s supply of baby formula will end up being about 120-130 ounces of baby formula or 4 bulk-sized baby formula containers.
Knowing that you will need so much formula each month will allow you to prepare your budget more carefully to ensure that you have enough on hand. It’s my recommendation that you go ahead and buy the biggest containers that you can find once you know the brand or type of formula that you want to use to save the most money possible.
We’ll go into more ways on how to save money on formula later on, but first let’s go a little deeper into how much formula you should expect to get out of a standard size of formula.
How many ounces does a container of formula make?
Each container of powdered formula makes a different amount of liquid formula for your baby to drink.
Here are some of the most common brands and sizes you’ll encounter, along with how many ounces of liquid formula each can will make:
Ounces of prepared formula by brand and container size
|Enfamil Infant Powder||Similac Advance||Average Generic Brand|
|Small can (about 12.5 oz)||83 fluid ounces||83 fluid ounces||83 fluid ounces|
|Large can (about 22 oz)||141 fluid ounces||155 fluid ounces||143 fluid ounces|
|Bulk Refills (about 30-36 oz)||202 fluid ounces||240 fluid ounces||221 fluid ounces|
For most types of formula, each scoop included with the can uses approximately 0.3 oz (8.8 g) of powdered formula. Most formula companies have you add one scoop of powdered formula to 2 fluid ounces of water. That means you end up using 0.3 oz of your formula to make about 2 fluid ounces of formula. No matter what type of formula you’re using, it’s easy to find out how many fluid ounces of formula your powdered container makes!
Just plug your info into the following calculation:
The nice thing is, when you mix the powdered formula with water, you’ll actually make slightly more liquid formula than you’re calculating. When you mix a 6-ounce bottle of formula, for example, you end up with closer to 7-ounces of food for your baby.
More food per bottle means that each can of formula will last longer before you run out.
How many bottles does a can of formula make?
Now that we know how much formula each can will make, we can figure out how long our formula will last before we need to take a trip to the store.
As your baby gets bigger, you’ll notice they’ll eat more with each feeding. There are many estimates out there for how much formula your baby will eat each day, but here’s the general consensus:
- Newborn (0-2 months): 1-3 oz each feeding every 3-4 hours
- Infant (2-4 months): 4-6 oz each feeding every 4-5 hours
- 6+ months: 6-8 oz each feeding every 4-6 hours (no more than 36 oz in 24 hours)
A newborn will usually eat 6-8 small bottles each day, an infant will usually eat 4-6 medium bottles a day, and an older baby will usually eat 4-5 full bottles of formula each day. Since the feedings become more spread out as your baby gets older and she will likely start eating solid foods around the 6-month mark, you’ll find that your formula use will actually stay fairly stable for the first year or even see a decline.
Using the standard sizing for cans of formula, here’s about how many bottles one can of powdered formula will make:
How many bottles of formula made by size of container and age
|Number of Newborn bottles (3oz)||Number of Infant bottles (6oz)||Number of Full Bottles (8oz)|
|12.5 oz can||27 bottles||13 bottles||10 bottles|
|30 oz can||66 bottles||33 bottles||25 bottles|
|35 oz can of formula||77 bottles||38 bottles||29 bottles|
How long does a 12.5 oz can of formula last?
On average, a 12.5-ounce can of formula will last:
- Newborn (0-2 months): 3-4 days
- Infant (2-4 months): 2-3 days
- 6+ months: 2-3 days
How long does a 30 oz can of formula last?
On average, a 30-ounce can of formula will last:
- Newborn (0-2 months): 8-11 days
- Infant (2-4 months): 5-8 days
- 6+ months: 5-6 days
How long does 35 oz of formula last?
On average, a 35-ounce can of formula will last:
- Newborn (0-2 months): 9-12 days
- Infant (2-4 months): 6-9 days
- 6+ months: 5-7 days
As your child eats more solid foods, they’ll drink less formula, and it will last longer. A 1-year-old will drink a lot less formula each day than a 6-month-old. Also, keep in mind that some babies always seem to be hungry, and some are more casual about their eating.
With a bit of observation, you’ll find how long formula usually lasts for your child.
Can a can of formula go bad?
Whether it’s been opened or not, formula can go bad. Knowing how much formula your baby is likely to eat can help you avoid throwing away bad baby formula.
In general, you should expect prepared baby formula to last just a couple of hours when left out and around 48 hours if you refrigerate the bottle. If you want to learn more, check out my resource on how long formula lasts once opened.
How to get the most out of your baby formula
If you’ve bought formula for your baby, you know exactly how expensive it can be!
Here’s how to get the most out of your baby formula:
- Only mix what you need. After reading this post, you should have a better idea of how much formula your baby will drink at each feeding. Don’t make more formula than you’ll need for a single feeding, because you’ll likely end up throwing it out.
- Refrigerate partial bottles. Partial bottles of formula that have been refrigerated are still good for up to an hour after your child starts them. Some babies love to snack, and if you know your child will want to eat more within the next hour, you don’t need to mix up a new bottle.
- Buy in bulk. Most formula companies will offer great deals when you buy formula in bulk. Unopened powdered formula, when stored correctly, can last for months. Buying in bulk also helps you score free shipping if you’re ordering formula online.
- Travel smart. If you’re out and about for the day, make sure you plan ahead when it comes to your formula. Packing a water bottle, powdered formula, and an empty bottle makes it easy to mix on-site and keep your formula fresh. That’s one of the benefits of powdered formula! If you’re wanting to pre-mix a bottle, make sure you keep it refrigerated while you’re traveling. An ice pack and cooler work well.