Your Hands and Your Baby’s Formula

Posted 1.22.15 | Nutrition Specialist

by Kathleen Smith, RDN, LDN

In your daily rush to take care of your baby along with all your other responsibilities, sometimes we take shortcuts to accomplish everything or just forget about certain safety steps that will decrease your baby's risk of foodborne illness and exposure to allergens.

Germs and allergenic proteins can easily be transferred from hands to formula and food. One of the best ways to help decrease the risk of foodborne illness and allergic reactions is for mothers and caregivers to wash their hands with soap and water before preparing baby formula and food. 

Healthcare providers are concerned about hand washing because of a study by the Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control about the infant formula feeding practices of 1,533 mothers. The study found that over half of the mothers, of even young infants, did not always wash their hands with soap before preparing formula for their babies (1). 

How should you wash your hands?(2)

·         Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

·         Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

·         Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.

·         Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

·         Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Hand-sanitizers will not get rid of food protein residues and do not eliminate all types of germs. Washing hands with soap and water is the best.

When should you wash your hands? (2)

·         Before, during, and after preparing food

·         Before eating food

·         Before and after caring for someone who is sick

·         Before and after treating a cut or wound

·         After using the toilet

·         After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

·         After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

·         After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

·         After handling pet food or pet treats

·         After touching garbage

We hope you find this helpful!


(1) Labiner-Wolfe L, Fein SB, Shealy KR. Infant Formula-Handling Education and Safety. Infant Formula – Handling Education and Safety. Pediatrics 2008; 122; S85

(2) Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand Washing: Clean Hands Saves Lives.  Available at: Accessed on July 25, 2014

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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.