Many parents choose to or need to formula feed their baby. If you’re one of those parents, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Regardless of the reason formula feeding is chosen, the most important thing in your baby’s life is love and compassion. A baby that is not breast fed or exclusively breast fed can be just as healthy and happy as a formula-fed baby as long as its done correctly.
This guide on how to bottle feed formula will walk you through the important information regarding formula feeding while providing simple how-to instructions.
Before beginning formula feeding, you’ll need to choose a formula to feed. This can take some experimenting as you’ll find your baby just may not like some types of formula for some reason or may even exhibit poor reactions to others.
There are six primary types of formula regardless of brand.
Cow’s Milk Formula:
Though a baby should not be fed actual cow’s milk until one year of age, formula made from cow’s milk is acceptable. This formula is made by altering cow’s milk to more closely resemble breast milk. Babies with a lactose intolerance or milk allergy may not be able to use cow’s milk formula. Cow’s milk formula is the most common type.
This formula is made from soy. It is an excellent option for those wishing to eliminate animal proteins such as vegans or for babies that are allergic to milk or have lactose intolerance. Note, however, that some babies are also allergic to soy.
Hypoallergenic or Protein Hydrolysate Formulas:
Commonly used for babies that have allergies or trouble absorbing nutrients, this type of formula is more processed and has smaller protein molecules. The protein that causes milk allergies is also commonly removed.
This formula is cow’s-milk based but has had the lactose removed and replaced making it safe for lactose intolerant babies.
Low-Birth Weight or Premature Baby Formula:
This is just formula with a little extra calories and nutrients to help low birth weight or premature babies become healthy faster.
Modified Breast Milk Formula:
This is breast-milk based formula that has been altered for babies with special needs.
On top of types of formula, you will also need to choose a form. Formula comes in powder, liquid concentrate, or ready-to-use form.
Powdered formula is, as the name implies, powder. It needs to be mixed with water or pumped breast milk for use. This is the least expensive choice for formula feeding. It also has the longest shelf life and is the easiest to store. As an added bonus, you can mix as much or as little as you like.
Liquid-concentrate formula also needs to be mixed with water or breast milk, but begins as a concentrated liquid. Easier to prepare than powdered formula, but slightly more expensive, liquid concentrate formula is a mid-point between powder and ready-to-use.
This formula is entirely ready to use when purchased. Though convenient, ready to use formula is more expensive and takes up more storage space. It can be useful for an-the-go use as it requires no refrigeration or water.
Many formula companies offer samples on request. This can be an inexpensive way to experiment with types, forms, and brands to find just the right formula to bottle feed your baby.
Knowing when to feed your baby:
One of the best ways to decide when and how much formula to feed a baby is called demand feeding. Demand feeding is also sometimes called cue feeding because you feed the baby when he/she demonstrates cues of hunger for as long as he/she wishes to eat. You can learn more about when and how much to feed in detail here.
The actual act of bottle feeding formula is a rather simple process. By now you have your formula. You also know how much and when to feed, next you’ll need to select a bottle and prepare it.
You can read about bottle and nipple selection here or move on to part two of this guide on how to prepare and bottle feed here.
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