New guidelines on preparing bottle feeds for babies

18, January 2008. safefood and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have launched a new publication on how to prepare a baby’s bottle feed safely. Entitled ‘How to prepare your baby’s bottle feed’, the resource consists of a booklet and practical 10-step poster.

Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said, “As powdered infant formula is not a sterile product, it has the potential to cause illness if not prepared properly. In rare circumstances, certain harmful bacteria such as E.sakazakii have been associated with it. However water with a temperature above 70°C will kill E.sakazakii and any other bacteria like Salmonella that may be present”.

But because adding just-boiled water to formula can lead to a loss of some of the nutrients in the formula, Dr. Foley-Nolan recommends using the ‘30 minute’ rule. “This is a very practical rule, whereby the water is boiled and then left for 30 minutes before the powdered infant formula is added, at which point its temperature is no less than 70°C”, she continued. “This is the best way to achieve a balance between killing the harmful bacteria and retaining sufficient amounts of nutrients in the formula”.

Powdered infant formula can contain the bacterium Enterobacter sakazakii (E.sakazakii) and this has been implicated as a rare source of illness in infants, with those under two months most at risk from it. The emergence in recent years of this illness has necessitated new risk assessments conducted jointly between The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). As a result, the WHO has issued new technical guidance on infant feeding in collaboration with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The safefood/HSE publication is an easy-to-follow, 10-step poster and booklet based on the technical guidance and is aimed at parents and carers who will be making up bottle feeds. It is also hoped that the resource will be used by public health nurses, dietitians working with infants, environmental health officers and those working at pre-schools when discussing bottle feeds with parents.

Copies of the resource are available from or by calling the safefood helpline on 1850 40 45 67, your local HSE health promotion department or the HSE infoline on 1850 24 1850.


For further information please contact

Kate FitzGerald / Niamh Burdett  or  Fiona Gilligan
WHPR       safefood
Tel: 01 6690030      Tel: 014480060
086 3873 083 (Kate) /086 6086 764 (Niamh)

 Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases, WHO; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. (WHO 2007)

Editor's notes

How to Prepare Your Baby’s Bottle Feed

  1. Boil Water
  2. Leave to cool for 30 minutes but no longer
  3. Clean surfaces, wash hands
  4. Read the instructions on the formula’s label carefully
  5. Pour the boiled water into sterile bottle
  6. Add formula using scoop provided
  7. Shake well
  8. Cool quickly
  9. Check temperature
  10. Throw away any unused feed after 2 hours

Breastfeeding is recommended for infants

The Department of Health and Children recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and thereafter continue to be breastfed in combination with suitably nutritious complementary foods for up to two years of age or beyond. This practice is the safest and best way of ensuring that babies achieve optimal growth, health and development.