Breastfeeding isn't for everyone: The choice is yours -- and you shouldn't feel guilty if you opt for formula. "Your baby will pick up on your stress," says Charles Shubin, MD, director of the Family Health Centers at the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. "It's important that feeding time is a relaxed experience for both of you." If you choose to bottle-feed, remember these essentials.
- Formula comes in three kinds: ready-to-feed liquid (the most expensive); concentrated liquid (less pricey); and powder (the cheapest).
- Most formula container linings are made with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that may cause neurological and behavioral problems in children. There's more potential for it to leach into ready-to-feed liquid in metal cans than into other formula types. The safest choice is powdered because it absorbs the least amount of BPA. Ask your doctor to recommend a brand.
- If you're mixing powder or liquid concentrate, use the exact amount of water the label says to use: Too little water can upset your baby's stomach or hurt the kidneys, while too much will keep her from getting enough nutrients.
- Always cover and refrigerate opened cans of liquid formula, and use them within 48 hours.
- To determine how much formula to prepare, divide your baby's weight in half: An 8-pound baby needs about 4 ounces, for example. You'll be feeding him every 2 1/2 to 3 hours at first, but as he grows he'll eat less often.
Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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