The Difference Between Powder, Concentrated Liquid, and Ready-to-Use Formulas

Which preparation of formula is best for your baby -- and your new mom lifestyle?
Alexandra Grablewski

You've finally chosen a brand of formula for your baby, but there's still one more decision to make: Should you use powdered, concentrated liquid, or ready-to-use formula? "All three preparations are the same from a nutritional standpoint," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., a Parents advisor and author of Bringing Your Newborn Home. "The choice you make will be based on personal prefer-ence and cost." Here, a look at your options:

Powder formula, which comes in a canister with a little scoop, as well as in little packets for travel, needs to be mixed with water before you can feed it to your baby. It's the most economical formula on the market. Caveat: It can be constipating to some babies, Dr. Shu says. And you'll need to lug along water with the powdered formula when you hit the road.

Concentrated liquid formula, which you pour from a container, is more expensive than powder formula, but it's less messy to prepare. You need to add some water to it before you give it to your baby, so bring along a water bottle if you're going to be out and about.

Ready-to-use formula is the most convenient type of formula. It's rich and thick, and you don't need to add any water to it before feeding. It's less likely to constipate babies than powder formula is, Dr. Shu says. But if you're on a tight budget you'll probably want to go a different route -- of the three preparations of formula, ready-to-use is the most expensive.

To prevent Baby from eating through all of your money, be smart about your spending on baby formula. Here are some tips on how to save on formula costs, starting from when you leave the hospital.

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