Formula Feeding Basics

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Formula feeding is very common and companies that manufacture formula are constantly striving to make it as wholesome and healthy as breastmilk. While it can never be the same as breastmilk and doesn’t contain all of the components that breastmilk does, formula is more than adequate for a substitution. However, formula brings with it quite a few choices and new skills to learn – all before your baby gets hungry again.

The Types of Formula

Brands aside, there are three basic types of baby formula:

  • Formula based on cow’s milk
  • Formula based on soy milk
  • Formula based on other proteins

Within each of the category there are many choices including standard and lactose-free varieties of the cow’s milk formulas.

Cow’s Milk Formula

The vast majority of formula-fed babies drink formula based on cow’s milk. The cow’s milk is broken down into it’s simplest elements and then the formula is built by adding essential supplements to make it as healthy as possible and as easy to digest. Cow’s milk protein contains the closest combination of protein and fat as breastmilk and when possible, baby should drink a cow’s milk formula. If your baby appears to be sensitive to the cow’s milk formula, try a lactose-free variety before switching to soy as the protein in cow’s milk is more substantial. There is some concern regarding milk which might contain bovine growth hormones and antibiotics, and if this is a concern for you, look for organic formulas and discuss your choices with your doctor.

Soy Formulas

Soy formula is growing in popularity as many parents use it to try and prevent future allergies and as a substitute for cow’s milk formulas. As a substitute it is adequate although some groups are concerned about the levels of protein in the milk as soy products are naturally low in proteins – the formula has additional protein added as supplement to offset this natural level. Another concern many groups make is the exposure to higher levels of certain hormone components, particularly estrogen, through soy milk products. Soy is often used a substitute for babies that are sensitive or allergic to cow’s milk. Parents should be away that soy is also highly allergenic for those that suffer from this sort of affliction.

Formulas Based on Other Proteins

For the babies that are allergic to both soy and cow’s milk, there are other formula options that are based on other forms of protein. Again, these are fortified with everything necessary for baby’s optimum growth, but speak with your pediatrician before electing this type of formula – usually it is best used only by babies that need to avoid the more allergenic varieties.

Preparing Formula

Once you’ve decided on a type of formula and a brand, be consistent not only with those, but also with how you decide to prepare the formula. In most cases, you have three choices of how to prepare formula:

Powdered Formula

To make formula from powder, you simply scoop out the right number of scoops, add the appropriate amount of water, shake and serve. This is the least expensive means of making formula, but it requires careful measurement of both formula and water and the shaking can make the formula frothy which isn’t ideal for babies who don’t tolerate gas very well.

One alternative is to prepare bottles in advance and refrigerate them to allow the formula to settle a bit more or to prepare each bottle in a separate container and then pour the mix into the bottle to serve. A can of powdered formula can be stored on the counter or cabinet for weeks, and some brands of formula also come in individual packets for when you need to make a bottle on the go.

Condensed Formula

Not as widely used, but still an option are condensed versions of formula. Again, you simply measure out the appropriate amount of condensed liquid formula, add the appropriate amount of water, shake and serve. Condensed formula is one of the less expensive options, but each can only be stored for forty-eight hours in the refrigerator once opened – not good for the light eaters.

Ready-to-Eat Formula

The final option is a ready-to-eat version of the formula. This version can literally be poured out of a plastic container much like milk into a bottle and served. There is no measuring or mixing – it is ready to go right from the container. It makes it easier for midnight feedings, but each container must be refrigerated and used within forty-eight hours with twenty-four hours being preferable. Ready-to-eat formula is the most expensive option.

You can usually move between the types of formula preparation – powdered when you’re on the go and ready-to-eat at home, for example, but some babies develop a taste for one variety and won’t ready accept another.

Formula Tips

Before making any formula, be sure you’ve sterilized your bottles including rings and nipple by boiling them for five minutes. Always use distilled water until given the clear by your doctor for other types of water and feed your baby on demand – she isn’t ready for a schedule until she’s at least a few months old.

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