According to the CDC, about 8 in 10 mothers choose to breastfeed their infants from birth. But as many new moms can tell you, the breastfeeding journey is rarely an easy one. There are a host of reasons why moms choose to formula feed their little ones whether it be from the very beginning or further into their first year of life.
Ultimately, this is a very personal decision that only you can make for yourself and the little person you love more than anything in the world. All moms have their baby's best interests in mind and want them to be as healthy as possible. Before we get into best practices for formula feeding your baby, just remember to remind yourself you're a rockstar mom who never needs to feel guilty about giving your baby formula!
Because we believe that "fed is best," today we're here to give you all the nitty-gritty on formula feeding your baby including:
- the different types of formula available
- knowing when and how much to feed your baby
- safe and proper handling and storage of formula
- how to warm your baby’s formula
Choosing a Formula for your Baby
I personally spent a lot of time researching which formula to give my first baby - I wanted to make sure I was giving her optimal nutrition as well give her something gentle on her tummy. What I ended up choosing I used for the rest of my babies, too, so the research was worth the time.
The good thing to remember, however, is that all baby formula must meet very strict standards. Though they aren't all created equal and what is great for one baby may not work for another, all formula has the necessary nutrients to help your baby grow and thrive.
Here are the basics to know about the different types of formula.
Formula can be found in three different forms:
- Powdered Formula: You will add water to this type and mix it together before giving it to your baby. It's is by far the most popular option as well as the most economical.
- Concentrated Formula: This comes in a liquid but will need water mixed into it before feeding it to your baby.
- Ready-to-Use Liquid Formula: This is the easiest to use choice but is usually the most expensive. You'll pour this one right into your baby's bottle.
Some key questions to ask when choosing a formula include:
- What is the milk base? Most formulas are milk-based meaning it's derived from cow's milk (though there are also goat milk options available.) If your baby is lactose intolerant or have another reason they can't have cow's milk, there are also soy-based formulas.
- Is the formula specialized for certain issues? Some formulas have special ingredients (or ingredients that have been eliminated). Though most babies can tolerate any formula, that's not true for every baby. You can find formulas that reduce spit-up and colic, or other formulas with extra nutrition for preterm or low birth-weight babies.
Once you've found a formula that works well for your baby, you'll want to follow these guidelines to know when and how much to feed your little one.
When and How Much Formula to Give
It's amazing how quickly your baby changes. The amount of formula you are feeding your little one can easily change from one week to the next. Since every baby isn't the same, it's important to pay attention to the cues your baby is giving you to know if they are still hungry.
Here are signs to look for:
- Rooting. If your baby turns as if to eat when something touches his cheek or mouth he probably wants to eat.
- Sucking Motion. This is often a sure sign your baby is hungry!
- Crying. If your baby has a clean diaper, has slept and is warm, crying is a normal sign of another need which is probably hunger.
There isn't a hard and fast rule about exactly how much your baby should eat, but they will definitely let you know when they are full. You can expect your newborn to drink around 2-3 ounces of formula every 3 or so hours. As their tummies grow, they will take in more formula at one time and be able to go longer between feeds - eventually sleeping through the night without waking to eat.
Safe Practices for Handling and Storing Formula
As previously stated, formula must meet strict standards imposed by the U.S. FDA. In order to be sure you're only giving your baby the safest options, you'll want to only purchase your product in America. Additionally, you should never attempt to make homemade formula.
Here are other safe practices to follow:
- Always prepare the formula as directed.
- Follow these formula preparation and storage guidelines determined by the CDC.
- Never put your baby to bed with their bottle.
- For the first 4-6 months of age, formula or breastmilk is the only nutrition your baby needs. After that, you can determine with your child's doctor the best time to introduce solid foods.
The initial learning curve of the when, how, and how much formula to feed your baby can be tricky. But from birth, you know your baby better than anyone else and you'll figure out quickly the best way to feed your little one.
Warming Your Baby's Formula
Deciding which formula to feed your baby and getting the amount they need just right is the most important part. But you'll also want to consider which bottle works best for your baby and use a nipple with the proper flow depending on their age. Beyond that, one convenient product to have to help with feeding time is a bottle warmer.
You'll soon see that babies have their preferences just like all humans do! And most babies are picky about the temperature of their milk.
The Baby's Brew is the first-ever battery-powered bottle warmer. It's simple to use and allows you to warm your baby's milk to one of four desired temperatures no matter where you are. It’s a 100% safe way to warm your baby’s milk since it uses slow-heat technology to warm your baby's milk within 5 - 10 minutes. With this convenient warming method, you’ll never have to worry about hot spots or lost nutrients.
The other cool part is that you can choose the option to get it with the detachable formula dispenser - making it a very useful item for formula feeding moms both at home and out and about. No messy bags of formula to worry about prepping and bringing along.
You are now officially set up for success in formula feeding your baby!