Your Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered!

Posted 1.28.16 | Nutrition Specialist

When it comes to preparing formula for your little one, we’ve heard every question in the book! If you have a question about mixing Neocate, you’re almost never the first person to ask us. We’ve pulled together some of the most common questions we get from parents, often several times a day! See if some of these aren’t questions you were secretly wondering yourself.

The Neocate Infant label says to use “cooled, boiled” water. Do I really need to boil the water? Does it have to be sterile? Really?

Great questions! Yes. (This applies to Neocate Infant).

First, it’s important to know that young infants are particularly susceptible to infections. Their immune systems have a lot of developing to do, so it’s best to take all steps to avoid them getting sick.

Second: we really care about the health of children who use our products! The best way to ensure that infants don’t pick up a nasty bug is to boil the water that you use to mix formula for about two minutes. This ensures that any bacteria in the water – especially a concern with well water – are killed before you give the water to your baby. Boiling the water first is our recommendation, and many healthcare professionals agree.

If you aren’t happy to boil the water, you can always check with your little one’s healthcare team if you want their advice on the topic. Be prepared that they may tell you the same thing we do, but they may feel differently. They may also become more relaxed with their opinion as your infant gets older and starts putting everything within reach in her mouth!

If I use nursery water or bottled water to prepare Neocate Infant, do I need to sterilize it?

Good question! Still yes.

We understand the urge to save some time and a few steps by using water that’s in a bottle. After all, bottled water should be safe, right? Well, we recommend boiled water (see above question and answer) because boiling sterilizes the water. And bottled water is not always sterile. In fact, it’s rarely sterile. Bottled water usually comes from a spring or a municipal water supply (read: tap water). If you buy bottled water, it isn’t sterile unless it is clearly labeled “sterile.” Reverse osmosis, filtering, and purifying are all great, but they don’t make water sterile. If the bottled water you use is not sterile, we recommend that you boil it. If you don’t want to boil it, ask your healthcare professional for their advice.

Looking high and low for sterile bottled water, but not having any luck? Try an online medical supply company, but be prepared to pay a lot!

What temperature water should I use to mix Neocate? Is it bad to use very hot water? What if I pour it straight from the kettle after it’s just boiled?

All good questions! Here are a few important things to know about the water temperature when you prepare powdered Neocate products:

  • For Neocate Infant, use boiled, cooled water (see above)
  • For all Neocate powders, water can be ice cold, cold, cool, room temperature, tepid, lukewarm, or warm
  • In general, the warmer the water, the better Neocate powders will dissolve
  • DO NOT use boiling water to prepare Neocate powders. The powder will dissolve REALLY well in boiling water, but you’ll also destroy a lot of important nutrients
  • The warmest water you should use is 122° F (50° C) to ensure the nutrient levels are not affected

Can I give Neocate to my little one warm or cold if they prefer one over the other?

Of course! We usually give infants bottles that are close to body temperature. However, some children prefer Neocate cold, which may be because our taste buds don’t taste cold things as much as we do when they’re warm. (Next time you have leftover pizza, compare a cold piece to a warm piece. Weird, right?) Just make sure if you’re warming cold Neocate from the fridge that you don’t heat it beyond 122° F (50° C) to ensure the nutrient levels are not affected.

How can I warm Neocate if I can’t use a microwave, and you also say I can’t boil it?

I do love a good riddle! First, here are ways you should NOT heat Neocate:

  • Don’t microwave: Microwaves heat unevenly and can create hot spots. A hot spot can cause serious burns, which would be a very, very bad thing.
  • Microwave hot spots can also affect nutrient levels, and nutrients are in formula for a reason!
  • Don’t boil: Boiling Neocate would be bad, because the extreme temperatures destroy nutrients.
  • Don’t heat on the stove: Heating Neocate in a pan on the stove would expose it to direct high heat, which will destroy some nutrients

That said, there are some methods you CAN use to warm refrigerated Neocate. They all involve gentle heat. Just make sure you don’t heat Neocate beyond 122° F (50° C) to ensure the nutrient levels are not affected.

  • Use a bottle warmer (designed to gently warm formula)
  • Place a bottle in a warm (not hot!) water bath for a few minutes
  • Hold a bottle under warm, running water

How long can I refrigerate freshly prepared Neocate?

If you put prepared Neocate in the fridge right away, you can keep it for up to 24 hours from the time you prepare it. It’s important to put it in the fridge immediately though. Really important! Bacteria love to grow at moderate or warm temperatures, and we DON’T want bacteria to grow! While you’re at it, get a thermometer and make sure your refrigerator is keeping temperatures below 40° F (4° C).

How long can refrigerated formula stay at room temperature once I take it out of the fridge? How long can freshly made formula stay at room temperature? Once a bottle is made, how long do you have before it has to be consumed?

The answer to any of these questions is 4 hours. That’s a general rule for foods, too. Think about a buffet at a restaurant. Would you want to eat food that had been sitting out all day? Then why would you give your infant formula that’s not fresh?! We still recommend that fresh is best, but know that if you need to bring a bottle from the fridge to room temperature, or want to mix it while your baby’s asleep, you’ve got up to 4 hours before you should discard it. Read on, because the time is shorter once they start to drink it.

Does warming a bottle from the fridge change the amount of time it’s good for?

No, but that’s a good question. Some bacteria grow better in warm temperatures, while others grow better in cooler temperatures, but most don’t grow fast in the fridge. Because of that our recommendation is the same for unrefrigerated Neocate. Four hours fresh from the fridge. Four hours at room temperature. Four hours warmed. Either way you slice it, if it’s been unrefrigerated for four hours, get rid of it. And in case you missed it: fresh is best. Don’t leave a bottle of warm formula on the counter for four hours just because we say you can – that’s just reckless!

How long is a bottle good for once feeding has started? Once my baby has touched the nipple on the bottle, does it have to be consumed within an hour?

Yes - One hour. Again, we really care about your little one’s health! While we’d love to think that all babies are clean and pure, that’s simply not true. Babies have just as many germs in their mouths as adults. Once your baby starts to drink from the bottle, start the clock and toss whatever’s left after an hour. Safety first! And don’t try to pull a fast one on us and put the bottle back in the fridge halfway through the feeding. There’s no wiggle room here, just like there’s no crying in baseball.

For tube feeding, how long can I let Neocate products hang?

Good question! We consider tube feeding to be like leaving a bottle on the counter, and our advice is four hours. We know that for overnight feedings, this means getting up in the middle of the night to start a fresh feed. However, just to reiterate, we care about the safety of our customers! Keeping formula at room temperature, no matter how clean you think the feeding bag is, makes it easier for bacteria to grow.

If getting up in the middle of the night to change feeds really presents a problem, discuss this with your healthcare team. Some healthcare organizations provide different guidance, but we recommend no more than 4 hours. Some healthcare teams may be able to provide you with guidance to keep the formula refrigerated during a feeding to extend the feeding time, but we cannot recommend this.

I hope we’ve covered your questions and that you found the answers you were looking for. We realized we didn't answer all of the top questions, so we have another post you can check out on this topic: Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered – Round 2

You can always call our team of Nutrition Specialists at 800.NEOCATE, too. But we’d really love it if you’d submit your question below. That way other parents who have the same question can see our answer! What other questions do you have about mixing, preparing, serving, or storing Neocate?


Not sure you can trust me? Don't worry, I've worked at Nutricia as part of the Medical Affairs team since 2010! My job is answering Neocate questions, and if I don't know the answer to your question, I know where to get it! I'm also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and have a nephew who needed Neocate when he was a baby due to a cow milk allergy.

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Read Comments (8)

  • 2016-05-06 | Jessica

    If i make a bottle and warm it up but baby falls asleep can i put it in the refrigerator Since she did not get a chance to drink it? Or is it now only good for one hour since it was warmed up?

  • 2016-05-10 | Rob

    Great question! If you’ve just mixed the bottle, regardless of water temperature, here are your options:
      -Place it in the refrigerator immediately for up to 24 hours
      -Leave it on the counter, but discard it after 4 hours if not consumed

    Regardless of when it was mixed or how it was stored, the 1-hour rule trumps all others! That is: discard anything left in the bottle 1 hour after your child starts to consume from the bottle. (If you mix a larger volume of formula with warm water with the intention to refrigerate it, it’s best to chill it quickly before putting it into the fridge - an ice-water bath will do the trick.)
      Hope this helps!

  • 2016-05-16 | Nathalie

    Is Neocate infant and Neocate Junior powder sterile itself?

  • 2016-05-16 | Nutrition Specialist

    Great question, Nathalie! No, Neocate powders, like other powdered formulas, are not sterile. Some parents wonder why the water needs to be sterile if infant formula powder isn’t. Water, especially well water, can contain bacteria that can make infants very sick. That’s why major health organizations and companies like us recommend to sterilize water used to mix infant formula. But you can always ask your healthcare team if you have more questions.

  • 2016-07-19 | Heba

    My baby is four months. He is not gaining weight because he hates the taste of neocate, please help what can i do to improve its taste?

  • 2016-07-20 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Heba,
      We can’t provide medical advice, so the best thing to do is ask your son’s healthcare team for their advice. It usually takes at least a few days for some infants to adjust to the different taste and texture of Neocate. This blog post has more information and a few tips:
    Best of luck to you!

  • 2016-10-29 | Tasha

    I have been given a recipe by my sons Dr and it prepares 17 oz which leaves a bottle with only 2 oz. When I make my next batch can I use some out if the fresh batch and add it to the 2 oz bottle to complete the bottle as long as it is used within the 24 hrs?

  • 2016-10-31 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Tasha,
      Great question! Absolutely, don’t let that 2 oz go to waste. You can certainly combine the remaining 2 oz from the previous batch with a few ounces of the freshly mixed formula, as long as you’re within the 24-hour window. Just make sure it’s been refrigerated in a clean container that your son hasn’t taken a drink from. Thanks for asking!

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.