How To Prepare Bottles for Night Feeds (Safely & Efficiently)

Waking up with a newborn for late-night feedings can be very challenging. You are half asleep and you need to put together a bottle. Would making bottles ahead of time help make this easier?

It is possible to prepare baby bottles for overnight formula feeds ahead of time, as long as they are prepared and stored correctly. During the day, make the bottle like you normally would, but move them immediately to the refrigerator and use them within 24 hours to avoid spoilage. When baby wakes, you can either warm the bottle or serve it cold.

Keep to find out more about preparing baby formula in advance and what potential issues you need to watch out for.

Can you make up formula bottles for night feeds?

The worst thing is trying to prepare a bottle while half asleep and with a screaming baby, and many parents will wonder if it’s possible to make those bottles while the baby is napping during the day.

Premade bottles are perfectly safe for late-night feedings as long as you store them correctly. You should always wash, sterilize and dry the bottles (and all their parts) before use. Prepare the bottles the same way you would if you were making them for immediate consumption. Store the bottles in the refrigerator and use them within 24 hours.

If you decide to premake your formula bottles it is important that they get stored in the refrigerator because baby formula is meant to be consumed within two hours of being made.

You also should not store a partially consumed bottle in the refrigerator for later use since bacteria can start to grow within a couple of hours from the start of feeding.

Should you use a ready-made formula for night feeds?

Parents of newborns often turn to ready-made formula bottles for the nighttime feeds and wonder if this is okay.

Ready-made formula bottles are designed for parents to use in a quick and easy manner, making them perfect for night feeds. The biggest issue with these is that they are only available in 2-oz sizes. They are also generally more expensive than a can of formula, making the powdered version more cost-effective.

Expense is the biggest issue when it comes to the ready-made formulas and we looked at the cost of three different versions of the Similac Pro-Advance formula to compare the costs. The individual Similac Pro-Advance ready-made 2 oz bottle costs about $0.55 per fluid ounce while the larger, ready-to-pour version comes out to $0.30 per fl oz. Both of these are more expensive when compared to the powdered version which costs $0.19 per fl oz. 

One of the benefits of the ready-made formula is that there is no mixing involved, and can be sold in individual bottles or in a carton. When using individual bottles, you can easily screw on a cap and nipple, making them quick and easy. This can save parents a couple of extra minutes, which can seem like a lifetime in the middle of the night while their baby is screaming for food.

The individual ready-made bottles also have the advantage of being able to be stored on the shelf until opened, which means they are at a comfortable room temperature for babies. Some parents have them on hand in case of an emergency. However, they only come in 2 fl oz bottles, which means this is not an easy fix for parents whose babies are drinking more than that. 

How long do nighttime feedings last?

The constant nightly wake-up can drive many parents crazy, and they’re desperate to know when their little one will sleep through the night

Babies develop the ability to sleep for around 6 hours by 4 months old, then they have the ability to sleep through the night at around 5 to 6 months. While this doesn’t guarantee that your little one will sleep through the night right at 6 months old, it does mean you can work with your baby on stretching out their sleep. 

You may need to work with your baby on weaning them from their middle-of-the-night feeds. You might start with eliminating some of the middle-of-the-night feeds but be sure to consult your pediatrician if in doubt. 

How long does prepared formula last?

Making formula ahead of time comes with safety issues so it is important to pay attention to a variety of things.

In order to safely have your baby consume prepared formula, the first thing you need to do is pay attention to time since you need to use it within 24 hours of it being made. It also needs to be refrigerated to ensure it does not spoil.

It may be tempting to keep a barely eaten bottle for the next feeding but do not reuse a bottle over an hour old.

If you make a big pitcher of formula, be sure to mark when you made it to ensure it doesn’t spoil. You can also simply make the number of bottles needed for the night and keep them in the refrigerator. They cannot stay at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. 

Do you need to keep formula bottles warm at night?

How you store prepared formula bottles is extremely important. Is it okay to keep these warm or at room temperature? 

If you have made bottles of formula ahead of time you need to keep them in the refrigerator to keep them safe for consumption. Formula you have mixed and prepared must be consumed within 24 hours to ensure that the formula does not spoil. Discard any bottle that has been left out at room temperature for over 2 hours.

It may be very tempting to keep it warm, but do not do this. Refrigerate the bottles and warm them as you need them. 

How do you warm up a bottle at night?

Your baby may prefer a warm bottle but in the middle of the night, it may take some time to get it to the right temperature safely.  

There are a few ways you can safely warm up a bottle in the middle of the night. One way is to use a bottle warmer. You could also warm up a cup of water in the microwave and stick the bottle in it after you pull it out. Do not microwave the bottle or boil the bottle in water. 

When warming a bottle with a bottle warmer, you simply press a button and wait for it to warm. It usually takes 4-12 minutes to get the bottle warm and will slow the process significantly. 

Another quick way to do this is to warm up water in the microwave, usually around 30-40 seconds, then after you pull it out, stick the bottle in it for a couple of minutes. You can speed up the process by pulling out the bottle, swirling it around for a moment then sticking it back into the cup for another minute or two. 

Can you give baby a cold bottle?

Warming a bottle definitely seems like it takes more time during the night. Is it okay to just give a baby a cold bottle?

There is no harm in giving your baby cold formula, especially in the middle of the night. It will save you time and energy simply pulling a premade bottle from the refrigerator. Even if your baby does not enjoy it, you can work with him or her on getting used to taking a cold bottle in the middle of the night. 

If your baby is used to getting their bottle warmed, you can gradually lower the temperature of the formula in the bottle. Repeat, lessening the warming time until they are able to take the bottle cold. 

How to make formula bottles for night feeds

Making bottles for night feeds is quick and easy.

To prepare baby formula bottles for night feeds:

  1. Thoroughly clean any bottles, nipples, and other parts your bottles may have.
  2. Fill the bottles with the amount of water needed for your nighttime feeds
  3. Carefully measure out the amount of formula needed. The ratio is usually one scoop of powdered formula for every two ounces of water, but make sure you check to be sure.
  4. Assemble the bottle then shake it well.
  5. Label each bottle with the date and time they were made.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Discard bottles older than 24 hours. 

How to make nighttime bottle feeding easier

Nighttime feedings can be very stressful.

Here are some tips to help make these feedings easier, and help your baby fall back to sleep faster:

  • Keep lights low
  • Be prepared with premade bottles
  • Keep interactions with the baby to a minimum
  • Burp your baby
  • Have cloths on hand for easy cleanup

Keep lights low

Keeping your lights low to ensure that your baby does not fully wake up during the feeding.

It’ll set a calm atmosphere for your baby and help them fall back asleep.

Have bottles prepared

Having formula-filled bottles prepared ahead of time helps cut down on time.

Your baby will be able to eat sooner, reducing the amount of time they are awake. 

Keep interactions with baby to a minimum

Of course, you can snuggle your baby, providing comfort and love, but avoid cues that indicate that it is time to play.

This will help set a calm atmosphere and encourage your baby to fall back asleep.

Do burp your baby

Burp your baby after feeding, even if in the middle of the night, so that gas does not get trapped in his or her stomach.

This will help your baby stay asleep longer.

Have cloths nearby for easy cleanup

Babies burp and spit up so it’s important to have burp cloths, towels, or bibs within reach so you can easily clean up any messes.

This will help reduce the amount of juggling you might need to do with the baby in your arms.

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