Can You Use the Same Bottle for Multiple Feedings? & When to Clean It?

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.

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Having a newborn in the house means many feeding sessions are happening around the clock. If you’re a first-time parent you may be wondering whether you can use the same bottle for multiple feedings. If your little one doesn’t drink all their milk or formula in one feeding session can you place the bottle back in the fridge? Are there health factors to consider?

The short answer is yes, you can use the same bottle for multiple feedings. You should, however, wash the bottle after each feeding. Experts recommend not letting milk or formula stand for longer than 2 hours since the combination of milk and baby saliva increases bacteria growth. 

Key takeaways

  • Bottles can be used multiple times provided they are washed between feedings. 
  • Baby saliva mixing with formula or milk can cause bacteria growth in the bottles. 
  • Both breast milk and formula shouldn’t be used after two hours to avoid bacteria – rather discard older milk. 

Can you use the same bottle for multiple feedings with formula?

Can you use the same bottle twice for formula? Many parents are skeptical about reusing the same bottle for all the babies’ feedings for the day. That’s usually because many people prefer to use a clean, sanitized bottle each time. While this is the ideal solution, there may be factors that can make this difficult. 

With that said, keep the following in mind. You can use the same bottle for multiple feedings during the day, provided you wash the bottle after each feeding session. Your next question may be whether or not you can reuse the unfinished formula in the bottle. 

Well, for hygiene and bacteria prevention, you should never reuse mixed formulas more than twice in the period of one hour. Keep in mind that it’s very easy for bacteria to start growing once the formula mixes with the baby’s saliva. 

Can you use the same bottle for multiple feedings with breast milk?

Can you use the same bottle twice for breast milk? The same rule applies to the formula mixture. If you’re left with milk in the bottle after a feeding session, it’s OK to use the bottle again, providing the next feeding is going to happen fairly soon. 

Ideally, you don’t want to let the milk sit out at room temperature too long (more than one hour) and you also don’t want it to get too cold again in the fridge. The CDC advises that breast milk that has been defrosted, removed from the fridge or freshly pumped, shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for longer than two hours. In these instances, it’s safer to throw the milk away.

When you can and can’t combine breast milk – cold and warm

It’s never a good idea to combine warm, or fresh, breast milk with colder milk for storage as this will change the temperature of the milk. To keep all the milk fresh and bacteria-free, rather place the newer milk in its own milk bag and label it correctly. 

However, if you’re preparing a bottle for a feeding session, you can combine the milk as you’re most likely going to warm it for immediate feeding. 

Is it ok to use the same baby bottle all day for feeding?

If you only have one bottle available, you can use the same bottle for feeding. You will just need to ensure that you wash the bottle thoroughly after each feeding. Avoid just rinsing as this will leave traces of bacteria in the bottle. Be sure to use mild dish soap and hot water (or bleach if it’s really really dirty). 

Alternatively, sterilize the bottle in your electric sterilizer or on the stovetop. Wash your bottle as soon as your little one is done with it to avoid a delay at the next feeding. 

Factors to consider when using the same bottle throughout the day vs not reusing it

FactorsUsing the Same BottleNot Using the Same Bottle
CleanlinessBottles may still have traces of bacteria if you’re simply rinsing them between sessionsThe bottle will be clean and hygienic and won’t delay feeding preparations
CostMinimal cost as you only buy one or two bottlesCan be costly if you buy several bottles 
ConvenienceNeeds to be washed between feedingsCan easily take a clean bottle from the cupboard for each feeding
Potential risksRisk of bacteria-growthMinimal risk as each bottle has been cleaned or sterilized before storage

How long can you use the same baby bottle without sterilizing it?

How many times can you use the same baby bottle before needing to sterilizing it? Some medical experts suggest that you can use the same bottle for about 24 hours without sterilizing it. 

Of course, this depends on a few factors, such as what’s been in the bottle, do you have hard water in your area and where the bottle’s been. For instance, if you’re out in the park with your little one all day, the likelihood of germ exposure may be higher. 

Is it best to rinse the bottle in between feeds?

If you have no access to soap and hot water (you’re away from home for the day), then rinsing will be better than nothing. However, wherever possible, always wash your bottles and any feeding accessories with hot water and soapy water. Rinse well afterwards and dry. 

If possible, rinsing the bottle should be followed by another sterilizing method, such as by using a bottle sterilizer which you can see in this video.

Alternatives to Reusing Bottles During the Day

There are a few alternatives to using the same baby bottle all day. Some of these include the following:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Spill-proof cups (You can opt for silicone versions to avoid injury)
  • Sippy cups for older babies
  • Syringe (for smaller babies or newborns)

FAQ

Can you put the formula back into the fridge after the baby has drunk it?

Formula can’t be put in the fridge if the baby has drunk from it. Unfortunately, you will have to throw it out. To avoid wasting formula, rather make smaller quantities until your baby can drink a full bottle without wasting. 

Can you put the milk back into the fridge after the baby has drunk from it?

You can safely freeze breast milk in bottles as long as you follow the recommended storage location, duration and temperatures.

If you’re noticing that your baby isn’t finishing the whole bottle in two-hours, consider storing milk in smaller amounts by using smaller milk bags or containers. This will avoid the risk of wasting unfed milk.

Conclusion

It’s perfectly safe to use the same bottle for the whole day of feeding – ensure though, that the bottle is cleaned after each feeding session. Reduce the amount of milk or formula you prepare to avoid wasting it. 

To ensure that you clean your bottles properly, consider reading my article on how to clean greasy bottles as well as drying bottles with paper towels for some handy tips!

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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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