At Balanced Families, we are committed to educating parents on all aspects of baby care. While we support and encourage parents who want to breastfeed, we also believe that feeding a baby formula can be a great alternative to breastfeeding for parents who are unable to breastfeed or choose not to.
In fact, I (Jessica) chose to formula-feed my third daughter after 4 months of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was going great, but I needed to be available for another child's health needs, and continuing to breastfeed made it difficult for me to do so. I was surprised at how many questions I had about formula feeding and how hard it was to find straightforward answers.
So with that in mind, here are some tips on how to properly feed a baby formula:
Make sure to clean all equipment thoroughly before preparing the formula. This includes the bottles, nipples, and any utensils you'll be using.
There is some conflicting advice on whether or not you need to sterilize all bottles and components. The CDC recommends sterilization for newborns under 2 months or for babies with weakened immune systems. However, as long as bottles and components are washed well after use, it's okay to skip sterilization as your baby gets older.
Follow the instructions on the formula package for how much water and powder to use. It is important to use the correct proportions to ensure that your baby is getting the proper nutrition.
Make sure you use an unpacked and level scoop.
Pro Tip: Some cans have a lip that you can use to level a scoop!
Once the formula is prepared, it is best to use it within an hour or two. If you need to store it for later, it should be kept in the refrigerator and thrown away after 24 hours.
If you have formula leftover after feeding your baby, throw the remaining formula out.
Many moms love making a big batch of formula in a pitcher like this, storing it in the refrigerator, and using only what is needed.
Before feeding your baby, test the temperature of the formula by shaking a few drops onto the inside of your wrist. It should be warm, not hot.
Hold your baby in a comfortable position and make sure they are latched on correctly to the nipple. It is important to pay attention to your baby's hunger cues, such as rooting or sucking on their hands.
When feeding, hold the bottle at a slight angle to prevent air bubbles from getting into the baby's stomach, which can cause discomfort.
We recommend paced bottle feeding. You can see a demonstration of this here.
Remember to burp your baby after every ounce or two of formula, as this will help release any trapped air.
Be prepared to adjust the amount of formula your baby needs as they grow. A newborn will typically drink around 2-3 ounces per feeding, while a 6-month-old may drink 6-8 ounces.
In case you are considering switching formula brands, you need to do it gradually over a period of a week, introducing a small amount of new brand formula while reducing old brand.
It's also important to consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns or questions about feeding your baby formula.
We demonstrate how to make a formula bottle, how to pace bottle feed, how to burp your baby and so much more in our Newborn Class for Couples. This online class, taught by APRN Jessica Newcomb, will answer all of your questions about your baby from ages 0-4 months. She gives expert advice that's practical, balanced, and for couples!