The lowdown on formula feeding

Emmy Samtani
Emmy Samtani
Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones. Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor on all things parenthood.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 4 mins read

Many of us go into pregnancy and motherhood with the best intentions to breastfeed our babies. But for some mums, it doesn’t always turn out as we had hoped. Thankfully, due to incredible advancements in technology, we are lucky to have feeding options so that, whatever the case, we know that our babies are still going to get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Because, above anything else, fed is always best. Here are a few things you need to know about formula, and a few tips to get you started.

How to choose the right formula

There are so many options on the market – making it quite overwhelming to know which one is best for your baby.

Powder is the most commonly used (and cost-effective) type of baby formula, but there are also liquid formulas and concentrates.

Also, options such as cow’s milk-based (modified for human babies to be able to digest), soy-based, lactose-free, hydrolysed, organic and specialised formulas for babies with allergies, premature babies or babies with other conditions that require special care are available.

Because you don’t know what your baby’s needs will be until they are born, it is best to hold off on buying any formula until you need it – it might also take a bit of trial and error before you find one that your baby will drink. You can always speak with your doctor/paediatrician about how to choose the right type or which one they recommend.

How much do I give to my baby?

This will vary depending on the age and weight of your baby – most formulas will have a chart on the label to help you work out the exact amount. You can ask your doctor/paediatrician if you are unsure.

Are there any risks or side effects?

As with anything you are giving your baby, you may want to test it with a small amount before giving them a full feed. If you have any concerns of an allergic reaction, stop feeding immediately and contact your doctor.

As mentioned above, some babies might not like – or their stomach/digestive system may not agree with – certain types of formula, so it can take some trial and error before finding the right one.

You also have to be cautious when heating the formula that the liquid does not become too hot that it burns your baby’s throat, so always test the temperature of the milk on the inside of your wrist before giving it to your baby.

What else you’ll need

There are a few things you’ll need to get in order to formula feed your baby, including:

  • Bottles and teats Choosing the right bottle can also be a bit of trial and error, with so many different varieties of bottle and teat available. If going for plastic, make sure you look for bottles that are BPA free.
  • Bottle brush for cleaning
  • Steriliser You’ll need to sterilize the bottles and teats every time you give them to the baby, so you can either opt to purchase a dedicated bottle steriliser, run them through the dishwasher (on the top shelf) or you can use a good old-fashioned pot on the stove and some boiling water.
  • Kettle or boiling water tap You must always boil water before mixing it with the formula to kill any bacteria in it. You will then need to let it cool down for at least half an hour.
  • Bottle warmer It is not recommended that you use a microwave to warm up formula for a baby as the heat can be uneven and burn your baby’s mouth. You may want to think about investing in a bottle warmer which ensures the formula is heated evenly and never too hot.

Tips for feeding your baby formula

  • Preparation is key when it comes to formula feeding – it can seem overwhelming at first with all the sterilising and water boiling, but once you get into a good routine it will become second nature. Planning ahead – especially for night and early morning feeds – can make the world of difference.
  • If you do pre-prepare formula, make sure it’s refrigerated and used within 24 hours.
  • Make sure you practice good hygiene when preparing the formula to ensure no bacteria gets into the bottle or milk before giving it to the baby.
  • Never add extra formula above the manufacturers recommendation and never add anything else to the bottle.
  • When feeding, keep the teat full of milk to help minimise air getting in which creates extra gas in the baby’s stomach – you will need to take breaks to burp them throughout feeding but this should help to manage it somewhat.
  • Throw away any formula your baby doesn’t finish each time – never reuse it.
  • Don’t force your baby to drink a set amount, let them guide you with their appetite.
  • You can bond just as well with formula feeds by still practicing skin-on-skin and making feeds a special, quiet and intimate time when you can look at and connect with your baby.
  • Formula feeding can also provide some relief to the mother by allowing her partner and other family members and friends to feed the baby.

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