You've thought about how you are going to feed your baby and have decided that formula feeding is the right choice for your family.
There's a ton of information out there about what to expect in the early days of breastfeeding. But what about the early days of formula feeding? We want you to be prepared and ready to feed your baby from the moment he or she is born.
So here are some of our top tips:
Paced Bottle Feeding
This method of feeding may not be familiar to many, but it is a wonderful method for feeding babies, especially newborns, to make sure that they are not overfed.
With paced bottle feeding, the baby is sat in an upright position and the bottle is held at a horizontal angle to the baby's mouth. Allow the baby to suck at his own pace, every once in a while tilting the bottle down to empty the nipple. Don't worry about whether he's sucking in air - it's really not enough to be concerned with and frequent burping will help with any air bubbles.
With paced bottle feeding, the baby is not overwhelmed by a steady flow of formula. Instead, he can eat at his own pace and stop when he's full.
It's really worth watching paced bottle feeding in action. Doula Catie Miehl from Columbus Birth & Parenting has a great video that shows you everything you need to know for paced bottle feeds.
Finding the Right Formula
If you're formula feeding, you have lots of different options. There are standard formulas and organic formulas. Some formulas made with corn syrup or soy, which might be a good option if you suspect a dairy intolerance. There are also specially designed formulas, such as Nutramigen and Alimentum, that manage suspected dietary allergies.
If you can afford it, ready-to-feed formula is a great option for a tiny baby. With ready-to-feed, there is no measuring and mixing water and powder. This formula is already liquid and is ready to go. This is a good option for newborns as there is less chance of contamination, something that is important when your baby's immune system is so brand-new. But ready-to-feed is expensive, so if you choose a powder option, don't fret. We'll talk below about the safest ways to make a bottle.
If your baby is having problems with constipation or too much gas, it's a good idea to bring this up with their pediatrician and see what they suggest. It might be that a change in formula could set things right.
Dr. Brown's Formula Mixing Pitcher
Some baby accessories are completely unnecessary - the wipe warmer for example. Even the bottle warmer you can probably do without by just setting the bottle in a bowl of hot water.
But boy do we love the Dr. Brown's Formula Mixing Pitcher! You can make several bottles at a time with the pitcher and then store them in the refrigerator for the next few feeds. Make sure you do put them in the fridge right away and toss any bottles that are older than 24 hours. (A little sticky note on the bottle with prep time can help you keep track of these things in your sleep-deprived state).
And always wash your pitcher out with warm, soapy water in between batches.
Part of this is just common sense but other parts are not so intuitive.
The common sense part: Always wash your hands when preparing bottles and make sure that your work space is also clean. This is just safe food prep handling guidelines. You will want to sanitize bottles and nipples and all other parts before first use. This can be done by boiling them in a pot of water for 5-10 minutes.
Always follow the guidelines on the formula package when measuring water and formula. These instructions can vary for different brands of formula, so you always want to make sure that you are following the guidelines for your specific brand.
It is important to note that powdered infant formula is not sterile. This is why it is important to boil water before mixing formula and add the correct amount of formula before the water cools below 70 degrees (i.e., don't leave the water cooling for more than 30 minutes before preparing your bottles). This step is needed to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria.
The World Health Organization has some handy-dandy step-by-step instructions that we recommend.
This is why we love the formula pitcher. It can be tedious to boil water for every single bottle. With the pitcher, you can boil a larger batch and then make up several feedings worth. (And if you really can't boil water for formula, you might want to at least use distilled or nursery water for bottles, especially with a baby younger than three months.)
You can prepare formula and use it within 24 hours of preparation, as long as it stays refrigerated until it's time to use.
You Do You
Welcome to parenthood - where someone is always judging your choices. This is just life. It starts early - judgments about birth, judgments about sleep, and, of course, judgments about feeding.
But please hear us when we say this: The way you feed your baby is nobody else's business.
You are an awesome mom, no matter how you feed your baby. Those people judging you - they're the ones with issues. Love your baby and feed your baby, however is right for your family, and everything will be just fine.