The actual process of feeding a baby a bottle, oddly enough, typically comes more naturally – or at least more easily – than breastfeeding. Babies have little trouble learning to suckle from an artificial nipple, a and parents have little difficulty at the delivery end. Getting to the feeding, however, may take a little more effort and a lot more know-how. After all, while breast milk is ready to serve, formula must be selected, purchased, sometimes prepared, and often stored. Whether you’re formula feeding exclusively or just supplementing, you’ll need to know how to get started.
Selecting A Formula
Formulas can’t precisely replicate nature’s recipe for breast milk (for instance, they can’t pass along antibodies), but they do come closer to that gold standard of baby feeding than they ever have before. In fact, all of formulas are made with types and proportions of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, sodium, vitamins, minerals, water and other nutrients similar to breast milk’s, and must meet government standards. So just about any iron-containing formula you choose for your baby will be nutritionally sound. Still, the vast selection of formulas on your local supermarket or chemist shelf can be dizzying – and more than a little confusing. Before you contemplate that selection, consider the following formula facts:
- Your baby’s doctor and health visitor know a thing or two about formula. In your search for the perfect formula for your baby, start with a call to either of them. He or she can help steer you to a formula that is closest to human milk in composition, as well as the one the best fits your baby’s needs.
- Cows make the best formula for most human babies. That’s why the majority of formula are made with cow’s milk that has been modified to meet the nutritional needs of human babies. (Do not feed your baby regular cow’s milk until after his or her first birthday; it’s not as easily digested or absorbed as formula and doesn’t provide the proper nutritional elements a growing infant formulas, cow’s milk proteins are made more digestible, more lactose is added (so that it’s closer to breast milk in composition), and butterfat is replaced with vegetable oils.
- Soya based formulas are best in some circumstances. In these formulas, soya beans are modifies with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to approximate breast milk. Since they stay further from human milk than cow’s milk formulas do, and because research shows that infants in soya are more likely to develop a peanut allergy later on, soya formulas are not usually recommended unless there are special health considerations for the baby, such as a cow’s milk allergy. Vegans may also choose to go soya from the start, without any medical indications.
- Special formulas are best for some special babies. There are formulas available for premature babies, babies who will turn out to be allergic to cow’s milk and soya, as well as those with metabolic disorders, such as PKU. There are also lactose-free formulas, as well as hypoallergenic formulas designed to trigger fewer allergies in those babies prone to them. For some babies, these formulas are easier to digest than standard formulations; not surprisingly, they are much more expensive. You don’t need to use them unless your baby’s doctor has recommended them. There are also some organic formulas that are produced from milk products untouched by growth hormones, antibiotics or pesticides.
- Follow-ups are not always best. Follow-up formulas are designed babies older than four months who are also eating solid foods. Check with your baby’s doctor before using follow-up formula; some doctors don’t recommended them.
- Iron-fortifies is best. While formulas come in low-iron formulations, they aren’t considered a healthy opinion. Most doctors recommend that babies be given iron-fortified formulas from birth until one year.
- For best results, look to your baby. Different formulas work well for different babies at different times. Coupled with the advice of your doctor, your baby’s reaction to the formula you’re feeding will help you assess what’s best.
Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to a general type, you’ll need to chose, too, between the different forms those formulations come in:
- Ready-to-use. Premixed ready-to-go formulas comes in 200-ml (7-fl oz) and 500-ml (17 1/2-fl oz) cartoons. It doesn’t get easier than this, but it does get less expensive.
- Ready-to-pour. Available in cartoons of various sizes, this liquid formula need only be poured into the bottle of your choice to be ready to use. It’s less expensive than single-servings feedings, but the formula left in the carton needs to be stored properly. You’ll also pay more for the convenience of ready-to-pours than formulas that need to be mixed.
- Powder. The least expensive option, yet the most time-consuming and potentially messy, powdered formula is reconstituted with a special amount of water. It’s available in cans or single-servings packets. Besides the low cost, another compelling to opt for powder (at least when you’re out and about with baby) is that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until it’s mixed.