Bottlefeeding: Managing when out and about

December 6, 2010, 4:18 pm Debbie Hodgson practicalparenting

Bottlefeeding when you are out and about can be simple. Fiona Baker shows you how to manage when visiting friends or out shopping.

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When you’re at home, you’re in your comfort zone. You’ve got sterilised equipment, cooled boiled water at hand, a giant tin of formula on the counter and a way to heat it all up. You might even have a bottle ready-made in the fridge. When bub is hungry, you know you can have his bottle ready in a jiff.

But bottlefeeding out and about, most of these comforts are missing. Got questions on how to go about it? We’ve got answers, with help from the Infant Nutrition Council (INC).

1. Can I pre-mix formula at home and store it in a warmer or vacuum flask?

This is definitely not recommended,” says the INC. Never keep milk warm for any period of time as this creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

2. How can I transport the ingredients?

Warm boiled water can be stored in a vacuum flask and mixed with formula powder when required for a bottle that won’t need heating. Or you can carry bottles of cooled boiled water and individual portions of the formula powder in separate, sterilised containers to mix when needed.

3.Do babies need formula warmed?

No, they don’t. If you’re out and don’t have a chance to warm up the bottle, it won’t matter – for health and hygiene reasons anyway. Of course your little one might have a different opinion if he’s used to a warm feed…

4. How many bottles should I pack?

Pack enough water and formula for the feeds that you know you’ll be out for, then make sure you pack the ingredients for at least one more bottle, because...

❋ Your baby may only drink half of one of his bottles. The remaining half can’t be reused and should be thrown out, so if bub is hungrier than expected later, an extra bottle may be needed.

❋ You may be out longer than intended. Unexpected delays can happen! Back in April, hundreds of motorists were caught up in a giant traffic jam on a Sydney freeway with some detained for more than eight hours.

5. Can I ask café staff or flight attendants to heat up a bottle?

Certainly, don’t be afraid to ask! Keep in mind, though, the bottle will most likely be warmed in a microwave. The INC does not recommend this method, because “heating can occur unevenly and burn the baby’s mouth”. It suggests standing the bottle in a container of warm water instead. Since this mightn’t be an option out and about, just make sure you shake any microwave-heated bottles well and remember to check the temperature before giving to your baby.

6. If there’s no formula available and I’m desperate, can I use cows’ milk?

If your bub is under 12 months and has not had cows’ milk before, an outing is probably not the best time to try it. Cooled boiled water would be a better alternative to fill his tummy in a pinch.

7. Can I buy ready-made formula?

Ready-made formula is indeed available in Tetra Pak boxes and comes in varieties that can be used from birth. If you can’t find it in the supermarket, check your pharmacy. While quick and easy, it’s also a more expensive option.

More tips from mums


“As soon as I get to a shopping centre I find out where the parent rooms are. It’s great to know where I can go to make up a bottle and warm it in the microwave.”

Tania, mum to Bessie, 5 months

❋ "I slowly introduced my daughter to the idea of drinking her bottle cold, making them cooler and cooler over a few weeks. Now when we're out, I don't need to warm them up as she's used to drinking them cold!"

Melinda, mum to Sam, 8 months

❋ "If I'm going to be out longer than an hour or so, I make sure that I feed my son, Jackson, just before we leave. I find that he'll usually sleep while we're out and won't be due for another feed until we get home. But I always remember to take a bottle with me, just in case!"

Sarah, mum to Jackson, 4 months

❋ “I’ve learnt that I can’t ignore my son’s hungry signs. If I leave it too long, then it becomes a mad rush to find somewhere that I can prepare the bottles and have them warmed up."

Hannah, mum to Jamie, 8 months


The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends babies be exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age, with breastfeeding to continue alongside appropriate first foods until at least 12 months of age. While breastfeeding is the ideal way to nourish your baby, we recognise that not all mums are able to do so. If you have any concerns about your breastfed or bottlefed baby, see your child health nurse or GP.

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