Summary

  • If your house has no water or power for more than 3 days, you should go to your nearest evacuation centre.
  • Bottle fed babies are particularly at risk because of the limited clean water availability, lack of facilities to steralise bottles, and potential shortages of infant formula.
  • For further information about what to take or how to prepare, contact your local Maternal and Child Health (MCH) service, call the MCH Line on 12 22 29 or the Australian Breastfeeding Association on 1800 686 268

The pantry lists below outline the food and equipment required for 1 baby if water and electricity have been interrupted for 3 days, based on the national infant feeding guidelines (PDF). If your house has no water or power for more than 3 days, you should go to your nearest evacuation centre. 

Your baby’s nutritional needs depend on their age:

  • 0–6 months rely on breast milk or infant formula. Offer breastfeeds or infant formula more often during hot weather. Water or other drinks are not needed unless recommended by a doctor.
  • 6–12 months need food and fluids in addition to breast milk or infant formula. During hot weather, you can give small amounts of cooled boiled water after or in between feeds.
  • over 12 months need solid foods and drinks, continue breastfeeding, or give full cream milk via a cup. During hot weather, give cooled boiled water after or in between meals.

Breastfeeding during an emergency – what to take and advice on breastfeeding

Adapt the list below for babies with food intolerances and allergies.

Babies aged up to 6 months

To stay safe:

  • Offer breastfeeds more often during
  • ensure you drink enough water if you are breastfeeding
  • do not give water if your baby is aged less than 6 months, unless recommended by a doctor.
  • You can continue to give expressed breastmilk in a feeding bottle if the electricity and water supplies have been interrupted. Please ensure feeding bottles and eats are washed with cold soapy water using wet paper towels. Then sterilise with chemical sterilising using cold water.
Item Approximate quantity
Disposable nappies 30
Nappy wipes
80
Nappy sacks
30
Disposable gloves
30
Hand sanitiser
1 bottle
Solid storage container with lid 1 (big enough to store all the supplies)

Babies aged 6-12 months

To stay safe:

  • continue to breastfeed as you did before the emergency. If it is hot, offer your baby more breastfeeds or small sips of water between feeds.
  • do not give your baby expressed breast milk during an emergency where electricity and water supplies have been interrupted
  • consider how much complementary food your baby is eating and use this information to guide your purchasing
  • buy small or single serves and discard any opened food that may spoil if not eaten immediately
  • do not give your baby food that has passed its best-before date
  • wash your baby's hands (and your own) before feeding
  • throw out used utensils to prevent contamination.
Item Approximate quantity
Nappy wipes
80
Nappy sacks
30
Disposable gloves
30
Hand sanitiser
1 bottle
Ready-to-eat food

9 jars or pouches:

  • 3 x cereal
  • 2 x vegetable
  • 1 x fruit
  • 2 x meat
  • 1 x long-life yoghurt or custard
Disposable teaspoons
10 (to feed solid foods)
Bottled water (for drinking)
3 x 500ml bottles
Solid storage container with lid 1 (big enough to store all the supplies)

Formula feeding during an emergency – what to take and advice on preparing formula

Babies aged 0-6 months – pantry list

Item Approximate quantity
Infant formula
900 g can - unopened
Bottled water (not sparkling mineral water or soda water)
24 x 250 mL
Small bowl
1
Feeding bottles and teats
27
Paper towels (two or three ply)
192 sheets
Detergent
1 small bottle
Soap (hand washing)
1 small bottle
Antiseptic wipes
48
Disposable nappies
30
Nappy wipes
80
Nappy sacks
30
Disposable gloves
30
Hand sanitiser
1 bottle
Solid storage container with lid
2 (one container to store all of the supplies and another smaller plastic container for sterilising bottles)
Sterilising liquid or tablets
1L liquid solution or 30 tablets
China plate
1
Metal tongs
1

Babies aged 6-12 months – pantry list

Item Approximate quantity
Infant formula
900g unopened can (based on 4 feeds per day)
Bottled water (not sparkling mineral water or soda water)
12 x 250 mL
Small bowl
1
Feeding bottles and teats
12
Paper towels (two or three ply)
96 sheets
Detergent
1 small bottle
Soap for hand washing
1 small bottle
Antiseptic wipes
48
Disposable nappies
30
Nappy wipes
80
Nappy sacks
30
Disposable gloves
30
Hand sanitiser

Ready-to-eat food

9 jars or pouches:

  • 3 x cereal
  • 2 x vegetable
  • 1 x fruit
  • 2 x meat
  • 1 x long-life yoghurt or custard
Disposable teaspoons for feeding
10
Bottled water (for drinking)
3 x 500ml bottles
Disposable cups
24
Solid storage container with lid
2 (one container to store all the supplies and another smaller plastic container for sterilising bottles)
Sterilising liquid or tablets
1L liquid solution or 30 tablets
China plate
1
Metal tongs
1

Preparing formula in an emergency

Chemical sterilising using cold water:

  1. Open the packaging of the feeding bottles with a clean knife.
  2. Wash the bottles and teats with cold, soapy water using wet paper towels.
  3. Prepare the sterilising solution in a clean plastic storage container 
  4. Put the bottles and teats in the solution and ensure that all air bubbles are eliminated. Place a heavy plate on the bottles and teats to ensure they remain immersed, and secure the container's lid.
  5. Soak the items for a minimum of 15 minutes or according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  6. Use metal tongs to remove items from solution and shake off excess liquid when you are ready to use a bottle and teat. Use the bottle and teat immediately.
  7. Make a new sterilising solution every 24 hours.
  8. Do not reuse bottles until water and electricity have been restored and you can clean them properly. 

Preparing a bottle of formula:

  1. Prepare only one bottle of formula at a time, just before feeding 
  2. Boil fresh water and allow it to cool until lukewarm – sit for least 30 minutes. Bottled water can also be used.  
  3. Wet the preparation surface with water, squirt with detergent and rub with a paper towel. Dry the surface with a new paper towel and wipe with an anti-bacterial wipe.
  4. Wash your hands using soap and water 
  5. Make up the formula according to the directions - do not wash the scoop as this can introduce moisture into the tin if not dried adequately.
  6. Test the temperature of the milk with a few drops on the inside of your wrist – it should feel just warm, but cool is better than too hot.
  7. A feed should take no longer than 1 hour. Throw away any remaining prepared infant formula within 2 hours.

An alternative option to bottles is a cup. Open cups are safest and can be cleaned easily.

Should essential services such as electricity and piped clean water not become available within a short time, and ready to use single serves of infant formula (with disposable bottles and teats) not be available, evacuation of formula fed infants and those who care for them should be considered.

What to do when there is no access or limited access to water

If no access or limited access to water, go to an evacuation centre as soon as possible. Utilise bottles of pre-made sterilised formula and single use feeding equipment.

What to do when there is a lack of facilities to sterilise bottles

If no access or limited access to facilities to sterilise bottles, go to an evacuation centre as soon as possible. Utilise bottles of pre-made sterilised formula and single use feeding equipment.

What to do with potential shortages of infant formula

Infant formula should be utilised for infants under 12 months of age. Where the preferred brand is unavailable an alternative brand can be used.

More information

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - Emergency Management

Last updated: January 2020

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