Choosing a formula for your baby can be a bit overwhelming. There are three types of formula: powders, which are mixed with water; concentrates, which are liquids that must be diluted with water; and ready-to-use liquids that can be poured directly into bottles. The formula type you choose depends on your budget (powder is the least expensive; ready-to-use is the most costly) and your baby's preference.
Once you've narrowed down the type of formula, more choices await you. Among them:
- Cow's-milk-based formulas. Most babies will start with this formula.
- Soy-based formulas for babies who may be lactose intolerant or allergic to cow's milk.
- Hypoallergenic formulas for babies with allergies to milk or soy proteins. The proteins are easier to digest.
- Specialized formulas designed for low-birthweight babies.
In addition, there are also organic formulas on the market, which have the same components as regular formula, but the cows that supplied the milk have not received any antibiotics.
Making the Right Choice
To help you decide which formula to choose, ask your pediatrician which brand he recommends. Some parents find they need to try a few different kinds before finding the right match. "Most pediatricians recommend staying with a formula for at least one week to see how a baby reacts to it," says Jose Saavedra M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist and medical and scientific director of Nestle; Nutrition North America. "A baby's digestive system is just developing, and switching brands too often could cause some digestive distress."
What About DHA?
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is linked to healthy brain and nerve development, is naturally found in breast milk. So is it beneficial to buy an infant formula with these ingredients? "Most babies make their own DHA from building blocks (other fatty acids) in the diet or in formula," Dr. Saavedra says. "However, a significant amount of research suggests that additional DHA in the diet may provide an added benefit. As a result, today, practically all formulas sold in the United States today contain DHA. But remember, while there may be some benefits, DHA-containing formulas are no guarantee your baby will later get better grades in school!"
How to Prepare a Bottle of Formula
In addition to the formula, you'll also need 4- and 8-ounce bottles (make sure they're BPA-free), nipples (you might have to try a few kinds until you find a style your baby likes), a bottle brush and nipple brush for cleaning, and a bottle warmer. And be sure to sterilize bottles and nipples regularly, especially for newborns. You can buy an electric bottle sterilizer, run them through the dishwasher (top rack only and place nipples in a dishwasher basket), or do it the old-fashioned way by submerging them in boiling water for no longer than five minutes.
Preparation is Key
If possible, prepare one bottle of formula at a time and feed immediately. But if you have to make a few for the day, be sure to store the bottles immediately in the refrigerator and use them within 24 hours. Don't leave a bottle out of the fridge for more than two hours, and throw away any of the formula left in a bottle after a feeding. Why? Bacteria from your baby's saliva will multiply in the bottle. Finally, it's best not to microwave formula, which can result in uneven heating and hot spots that can burn Baby's tongue and throat. Instead, invest in a bottle warmer.
How Much Formula Does Baby Need?
Between birth and 6 months of age, your little one will need an average of 2-2.5 ounces of formula per pound per day. So if your baby weighs 10 pounds, she will need 20-25 ounces per day. Keep in mind that no baby -- regardless of age -- should have more than 32 ounces of formula each day.
- Newborns may take only an ounce or two at each feeding
- 1-2 months: 3-4 ounces per feeding
- 2-6 months: 4-6 ounces per feeding
- 6 months to a year: as much as 8 ounces at a feeding
Bonding with Baby
Some moms fear that they won't share the same personal connection with their baby while formula-feeding as they would if they breastfed. Don't worry! You can still make it a special time for both of you. Choose a quiet space and make sure both of you are comfortable. Support your arm and your baby's head with a pillow, and hold Baby in a semi-upright position. Keep the bottle tilted so the nipple and the neck of the bottle are always filled with formula. This prevents your baby from taking in too much air.
The Big Burp
Bottle-fed babies tend to take in more air than breastfed babies, so be sure to burp your baby in the middle and at the end of his feeding. Several different positions work, but the two most common are sitting your baby up, supporting him under the chin, and patting his back until he burps, or leaning him against your shoulder and rubbing or patting his back.
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