Does Baby Formula Expire? Signs it’s Expired and What to Do

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Does baby formula expire? It’s one of the most pressing questions parents have. As a parent, you want to make sure that the food you’re giving your baby isn’t going to cause any health concerns. In this article, I’ve done some extensive research as a father of a baby to find out if your baby formula can go bad. 

Every can of formula will have an expiry date on the container. Parents need to use the formula before that expiration date. When you open the can of formula you can write the date on the lid to help you remember to use it up before it spoils.

Key takeaways

  • Baby formula can expire one month after opening it. 
  • Unopened cans of formula can also expire. 
  • Prepared baby formula can expire within 24 hours 
  • Organic formula is a perishable product that can expire
  • Baby formula with an unusual smell can be a sign that it’s spoiled 
  • Expired formula can be discolored 
  • Feeding your baby expired formula can cause serious side effects 
  • Fever and weakness are common symptoms after feeding your baby expired formula 
  • You should throw powdered formula in the trash can if it’s expired and recycle the can

Does baby formula expire? 

Baby formula, like any other perishable product, does expire. It has a limited shelf life and you’ll see the expiration date on the bottom or side of most cans of formula. Additionally, according to the CDC, most infant formula expires within one month of being opened.

The CDC also suggests that you should store your baby formula correctly to prevent it from perishing before the expiration date.   

Does baby formula expire if unopened?

Unopened cans of baby formula can expire especially if you store it in a humid and hot area. It’s recommended that you store your cans of formula in a cool dry area and make sure that the lid is tightly closed

Furthermore, it’s recommended that you don’t store cans of formula in the fridge, even if they’re unopened. Storing your formula in a dark and well-ventilated pantry will do the trick.  

Does baby formula expire after 24 hours?

Baby formula powder won’t expire within 24 hours. However, if the expiration date is the next day, it may be safer to avoid using the formula. 

Prepared baby formula can expire within 24 hours – as stated by CDC. So, parents should store bottles of formula in the fridge and ensure they feed the liquid to their babies within a 24-hour period. If the formula has been sitting in the fridge for more than a day, it’s better to discard it. 

Does organic baby formula expire?

Organic baby formula does expire and will also have a Use By date on the side or bottom of the can. It’s recommended that you don’t buy baby formula after its expiration date. You must also store your organic baby formula in a cool dry place to ensure it doesn’t spoil quicker after opening it.  

Signs baby formula has expired 

There may be situations where the baby formula hasn’t expired yet but you notice that it’s not the same as previous products. Here are some signs that I noticed when my daughter’s baby formula was spoiled. 

Has an unusual odor

Baby formula usually has a sweet and pleasant odor. Some formulas may even smell like evaporated milk or cereal. But when the formula spoils it can emit an unpleasant smell. If you notice that the powdered baby formula smells bad like fish, metal, or even cheese, it could be a sign that it’s gone bad.  

The formula has a strange color

Baby formula should be white or have a slightly off-white color. But if you notice strange coloring like green or brown, the formula could be growing mold spores. Avoid using the formula if you notice significant discoloration in the powder.  

Your baby may reject feeding 

Is your baby crying or squirming during bottle feeding? Perhaps it’s because the formula tastes bad or is giving your baby cramps. These are some signs that the baby formula has spoiled. Inspect the formula and check the sell-by date to see if the formula is what’s causing your baby discomfort. 

The powder is clumpy 

Some baby formulas aren’t in powder form. You can get ready-to-feed formulas that are in liquid form. If you notice clumps in the milk, it could be sour. If the liquid formula smells bad, throw it out immediately and wash the bottle thoroughly.

Side effects expired baby formula can cause

If you feed your baby spoiled formula they may be at high risk of contracting Cronobacter infection. Here are other symptoms that you may notice if you accidentally feed your baby formula that has expired. 


When babies have high fevers unexpectedly it could be caused by the baby formula. Either your baby is allergic to the formula or has contracted an infection. Additionally, expired formula can also cause high fevers. 

If your baby has a fever, dress him or her in light-fitted clothing. Give your baby sponge baths or place a cool cloth on the forehead. Here is a detailed video on what you can do if you’re struggling to break your baby’s fever: 


Do you notice that your baby seems less energetic, fussy, and simply looks unwell? Giving your baby expired formula can cause weakness and fatigue. Your baby may want to lie down or struggle to drink from the bottle. If this is the case, you should take your baby to the doctor for assistance. 


In normal cases, babies can vomit after drinking formula because they’ve been overfed or they suffer from reflux. However, in other serious situations, it could be a sign of an infection. One way babies contract infections is through expired baby formula. 

You may need to take your baby to a doctor if you’re concerned that the formula you used has expired. Your doctor may be able to assist with the proper medication. On the other hand, if your baby is suffering from colic, considering the pros and cons of anti-colic bottles, you can use an anti-colic one to solve the problem. 


Diarrhea in babies may be normal in some cases when you switch to formula. It usually goes away on its own when your baby’s stomach learns to process the formula. But if you notice that the diarrhea isn’t going away, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. 

One of the symptoms of feeding your baby spoiled formula is diarrhea, along with weakness and high fevers. This is because after the formula has expired it loses all its nutrients which can cause your baby to get an upset stomach.

Try going back to breastfeeding at this stage until your baby’s stomach bug has disappeared.    

Poor appetite

Your baby may not want to eat after ingesting expired baby formula. This is especially true if your baby vomits and suffers from stomach cramps after drinking the milk. It could be a sign of low blood sugar caused by the lack of nutrients in the expired formula. 

You may need to consult your doctor to help you get your baby back to a normal feeding routine after experiencing sickness from drinking spoiled formula.   

What to do with expired baby formula 

You should throw away expired baby formula immediately. Even if the can is unopened you should never use formula that’s passed the sell-by date. If the can is open, you can throw the powder in the bin and recycle the can. 

Ready-to-feed formula can be poured down the drain and the carton can also be recycled. Formulas that you’ve mixed yourself can also be poured down the drain. Make sure you wash the bottles thoroughly and sterilize them after throwing away the expired milk.

If you have pets, make sure they don’t have access to the disposed of baby formula as they can get sick if they eat it.   


As you can see, baby formula can expire whether you’re using organic, powder, or ready-to-feed versions. If you have products that you no longer need, find out where you can donate baby formula but make sure they’re not passed their sell-by dates. 

If you buy a lot of cans of formula to last a month or months, you should store them correctly to prevent them from spoiling. Use the information in this article to assist you. And if you want to open and then store baby formula, here are some other articles I wrote about storing them in a glass jar or here you find formula storage solutions in Tupperware.

Photo of author


I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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