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How to Prepare Baby Bottles for Daycare (Formula & Breastmilk)

Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.

Starting Day Care

It's a tough transition from home to daycare - for mom and baby. There are many things to think about from what type of daycare to what items to pack in your baby's bag. You want baby to be as comfortable as possible while they are away from you, of course.

One of the most important aspects of day care is feeding. If you are a breastfeeding mother you need to make sure baby will take a bottle and if baby is on the bottle you'll need to make sure that you know the correct way to prepare the bottles and send them to day care.

The following guide covers both ways of preparing expressed breast milk as well as preparing bottles of formula for baby.

You May Legally Repin this Image

You May Legally Repin this Image

Expressed Breast Milk

Breast milk is more difficult to prepare than formula - if you need help on how exactly to express, store and heat breast milk, click here.

How to prepare breast milk for day care:

  1. Get frozen milk out of the freezer 12-24 hours before daycare so it can defrost.
  2. Clean and sterilize bottles.
  3. Shake bags to make sure the thick creamy top layer of milk is thoroughly mixed through.
  4. Open milk storage bags and pour correct amount into each bottle.
  5. Seal bottle and refrigerate until ready to goto daycare.
  6. Transport bottles to daycare in bottle cooler.


  • Frozen milk should not be kept for longer than 24 hours after defrosting.
  • Fresh milk should not be kept refrigerated for more than 24 hours.
  • Always make sure that day care workers are aware of how to handle, store and reheat breast milk.

Why can't I send empty bottles and a can of formula to day care?

Day care workers are legally liable for making sure your baby gets fed the correct bottle. For this reason most day care centres only allow pre prepared bottles or mixers. This way babies don't get fed incorrect formula, incorrect amounts or an older/younger formula accidentally.

Pre-Prepared Formula

One method of sending bottles to day care is pre-prepare them so day care workers only need to reheat them and give to baby.

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  1. Clean and sterilise bottles.
  2. Boil water and put correct amount of water in each bottle.
  3. Add formula and shake.
  4. Seal bottles and refrigerate until ready for daycare.
  5. Transport to day care in bottle cooler.

Day Care Prepared Formula

If you prefer formula to be prepared as freshly as possible, follow these steps:

  1. Clean and sterilise bottles.
  2. Boil water and put correct amount of water in each bottle.
  3. Seal and refrigerate bottles until ready for day care.
  4. Use a storage container (such as the one shown below) to store correct amounts of formula for each feed. Fill each separate section with the correct amount of formula.
  5. Send bottles and formula to day care. Bottles don't need to be placed in a cooler for a short trip.
  6. Day care workers can prepare bottles by heating water and adding formula as required.

Other Bottle Tips

  • Always make sure breast milk or prepared formula is stored either in a refrigerator or in a low temperature place.
  • Make sure milk is never reheated. If not used, discard.
  • Always label all baby items with baby's name to avoid confusion.

*Photo of bottle by brokinhrt2

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


ad13knight on November 21, 2016:

You're not supposed to add formula to boiling water as described in the steps premixing formula bottles. Formula contains probiotics that this kills. In fact most formula cans say not to mix it with water exceeding 104 degrees. The correct way would be to boil the water, allow it to cool to room temperature and then add the formula.

Mishael Austin Witty from Kentucky, USA on March 24, 2011:

We've always had to prepare our formula ourselves and take it to the daycare pre-mixed. It's a KY state law (or is it a federal law?) that they can't mix the formula at the daycare. I guess they're afraid of contamination somehow.

Sam on December 28, 2010:

This contains incorrect info on breastmilk handling. Do not shake it, only gently swirl or agitate. Fresh Breastmilk is good in the fridge for 5-7 days.

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