Babies can be exposed to dangers such as lead and harmful bacteria if their bottles and infant formula are not prepared correctly.

Following are guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your child safe and healthy.

Water used for mixing infant formula must be from a safe source. Your local health department can help you determine if your tap water is safe to use for your baby’s bottles.

If your tap water is safe, simply mix powdered formula with room temperature tap water, and the bottle is ready to use.

If your tap water is not safe or if you are unsure, use bottled water or bring cold tap water to a rolling boil for no longer than one minute. Avoid boiling for more than one minute because it could increase the concentration of impurities in the water. Allow the water to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes, but do not leave the water out longer than half an hour to avoid bacterial contamination.

Before feeding your baby, check that the water is not too hot by shaking a few drops on the inside of your wrist.

Once formula has been prepared and mixed, it must be consumed or stored in the refrigerator within one hour to prevent the growth of bacteria. Discard prepared formula that has been at room temperature for more than one hour. Formula that has not been given to an infant can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

An open container of ready-to-feed concentrated formula or formula prepared from concentrated formula should be covered and refrigerated. Discard unused formula after 48 hours.

When storing expressed breast milk, be sure to label it with the date and time it was expressed. Use sealed and chilled breast milk within 24 hours if possible, and discard breast milk that has been refrigerated more than 72 hours. Milk can be kept in a freezer attached to a refrigerator for one month and for three to six months if kept in a zero-degree deep freezer. Thaw breast milk in the refrigerator or by placing it in a bowl of warm water.

©2010 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.