Formula Milk | Feeding your baby

formula milk Formula milk feeding is a common parent choice.  There are several reasons a parent chooses to give formula to his or her infant instead of or in addition to breastmilk. As a parent you will make many decisions for your child. Before choosing formula over giving breastmilk to your infant, be sure you review the benefits and possible effects for both (see CHART).  Formula milk and breast milk can be combined too.

For the majority of infants, a cow’s milk based formula is the best choice. Sometimes an infant will have formula milk intolerance. This is usually the result of milk protein intolerance or lactose sensitivity. The signs of this are excessive gassiness, vomiting, green watery stools, blood in the stool, rash, and abdominal pain. You should always get your child examined by her healthcare provider first before changing formulas. Sometimes the symptoms above mean another type of illness.

An alternative to cow’s milk formula is soy formula which is a vegetable protein source. Many of the vitamins and minerals (especially calcium for bones) are not absorbed as well from a soy formula. Therefore, the change to soy should be done on the advice of your child’s healthcare provider and only when medically necessary.

Be sure to use full iron formulas. Iron in formula milk does not cause colic, stomach upset or constipation. Iron is needed for proper hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to all the cells in the body — if your infant’s hemoglobin is low she is anemic, tired, can’t eat well, and then will not grow physically or developmentally. It’s very important to have iron in your infant’s formula milk.

Hydrolized formula milk (examples are Alimentum or Nutramigen) is a good option to cow’s milk formula when a child has a protein intolerance. These formulas are cow’s milk based, but the proteins are partially “digested” so your infant can more easily digest them. Again, a switch to this type of formula should be done only after discussion and exam by your infant’s healthcare provider. One of the drawbacks for these types of formulas is the smell and taste and definitely the cost.

Here’s a Tip
Many parents say that their infant will more easily drink the ready made liquid formula compared to the powder formula — parent’s say it doesn’t smell as bad either in the liquid form.

Formula Milk Preparation –How To Prepare Baby Bottles

The way you prepare bottles will vary depending on the type of formula you purchase. There are several options:

  • Individual bottles of ready to feed formula
  • Larger multi-serving ready to feed formula containers
  • Cans of multi-serving powdered formula
  • Single serving powder packets

Ready to feed bottles are very convenient, but more expensive. Larger containers of ready to feed formula milk can also be convenient. Look at the label, once opened, it must be refrigerated and then unused formula must be discarded in 24-72 hours depending on the type of formula milk.

Powder formula milk requires you to consider your water source. Discuss this with your infant’s health care provider. If you have well water, it should be tested which can be done through your healthcare provider’s office. Tap water may need to be boiled prior to mixing with the powder. Discuss the need to boil tap water with your infant’s provider. If unsure, boil for 2-3 minutes and allow the water to cool before making a bottle.   If you are using tap water, let the water run cold for about 30 seconds from the tap before filling a bottle to decrease the amount of lead or other impurities in the water you give your infant.

Some tap water and some bottled water contains fluoride which may cause stomach upset before the age of 6 months. You may be instructed to use fluoridated water after six months of age to improve the health of your infant’s teeth.

If your infant does not finish the formula in the bottle during a feeding, any left over must be discarded. The chance for bacteria to grow in the bottle, even if refrigerated, is very high once your infant’s mouth has touched the bottle nipple. So don’t take any chances, discard any left overs. This is even true if you have mixed some of your breast milk with the formula, it must be discarded.

For the youngest infants, it is important to sterilize bottles, nipples, and pacifiers. Most newer dishwashers sterilize just fine. You can purchase a bottle sterilizer for more convenience or you can boil the bottle parts in water on the stove.

Adding rice cereal to bottles is not recommended for a healthy baby. It does not help an infant sleep longer at night and it can lead to gassiness, fussiness,  constipation, and more food allergy development.

Whether your choose breast feeding or formula milk, your child needs one or a combination of both for the first 12 months of life.  Breast milk or formula milk for the first 12 months.

Related information — Pumping breast milk for your baby    Weaning from breast feeding

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