Using formula to feed your baby can be a controversial topic. Some rave about formula and its benefits while others are strictly all about breastfeeding. Those in between see the benefits of both and how they can go together. However, formula is the best alternative to using breast milk to feed your baby.
If your health does not allow you to breastfeed, formula is a great option. Formula also carries some nutrients that are not found in breast milk, which would need to be covered by supplements anyway. Using formula may be an easier and less stressful alternative for the whole family.
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For parents who do not have the option to breastfeed, such as adopting or same-sex couples, formula is a perfect alternative. Your baby does not lose out on most of the nutrients and benefits of breast milk. The convenience of formula feeding is also a big plus, especially for busy parents.
Some may worry that the absence of breastfeeding will prevent the bond that happens between a baby and its parent. This is not the case because feeding time is always a time to strengthen that bond, no matter how it is done.
The decision to breastfeed or formula feed is one that is entirely up to you and your baby. You can exclusively use formula feed or mix it up with your breastfeeding. Either way, your baby will get all of the nutrients he will need to grow and thrive.
There are several different types of formula to choose from. The most common type is cow’s milk based formula. The other types are for babies with any sensitivities or prematurely birthed babies.
1. Cow’s Milk Based Formula
- This kind of formula makes up the majority of formulas available on the market.
- Usually, these have added iron. Iron fortified formula is necessary unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Do not try to give your baby cow’s milk or try to make your own. Only commercially offered formula is appropriate to feed your growing baby.
2. Soy-based Formula
- Iron fortified soy formula is also necessary unless told otherwise.
3. Hypoallergenic Formula
- For babies who cannot tolerate basic formulas, these formulas are broken down into basic components and are easier to digest.
4. Specialized Formula
This type of formula is designed for preemies or babies with low birth weight. The formula also comes in different forms. These basic forms are powder, concentrates, and ready to use. These three types each have their own benefits.
- Powders require mixing with water. They are also the least expensive out of these types.
- Concentrates only need to be diluted with water.
- Liquids that are ready to be poured right into bottles are also available. They are the most expensive but the most convenient.
6 Supplies You Will Need
To feed your baby using formula, you will need a number of supplies.
- Your choice of formula is up to you. Ensure that you are not making your own or giving your baby cow’s milk because your baby might not be able to digest them.
- The bottle you end up using can depend on a few things. Bottles come in both glass and plastic, and some have disposable liners inside.
- Certain babies will do better with certain bottles. You may need to go through a few types before finding one that works for you and your child.
- Each baby will have a preference when it comes to nipples. They come in a variety of types, sizes, and flow rates.
- There are flat-top, clear, brown, wide-based, rounded, and orthodontic nipples. This does not cover all of them, but this gives you an idea of what your options are.
- Flow rates are how slow or fast the formula will flow through the nipple. This also depends on what your baby prefers. Some get frustrated with slow flow, and others may be overwhelmed with a faster flow.
4. Burp Cloths
5. Bottle/Nipple Brushes
- These are important to keep your bottles and nipples clean.
- You will need water to mix with the formula to make it consumable.
How to Schedule Feedings
Using formula requires some amount of planning, unlike breastfeeding. This is because you have to make the formula and ensure that you have all the supplies you need cleaned and ready to use.
1. How Much to Feed
- Newborn: 1.5 to 3 ounces of formula every 2 to 3 hours.
- 2 months: 4 to 5 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours.
- 4 months: 4 to 6 ounces of formula at each feeding.
- Depends on size and/or feeding frequency
- 6 months: 6 to 8 ounces every 4 to 5 hours.
- Depends on whether or not baby food has been introduced
2. How Often to Feed
- Newborns should be fed on demand for the first few months. Babies fed with formula will usually be fed every 2 to 3 hours. When they get older, it will increase to about 3 to 4 hours.
- If your baby is very young or having trouble gaining weight, do not go too long without feeding. This is the case even when it means you have to wake your sleeping baby.
All of the formulas that are manufactured in the US are required to meet strict nutritional standards put forth by the FDA. This means that just because the formula is name brand instead of generic it is not necessarily the best for your baby. Ensure that you are using the best possible formula for your baby.
Using formula is no better or worse than breastfeeding. Whichever you decide, formula is something you will most likely use at some point. Knowing about it and its benefits are important so you can make a decision about how to feed your baby. Even if you have no choice, you should still know what you are feeding your baby and what it does.