Formula Feeding: Ways to Feed Your Baby Safely


The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend breastfeeding as the best way of feeding your baby, but there are various situations when this way is not an option.

Regardless of whether you are the mom who can’t breastfeed your baby because of a health condition (breast surgery, using medicines, HIV or AIDS, tuberculosis, chemotherapy) or work obligations, or just because you have decided not to do that, you should remember one thing – Feeding your baby with formula doesn’t make you a bad mom!

What Is Formula Feeding

Manufactured under adequate sterile conditions and commercially prepared formulas can be an entirely satisfactory nutritious alternative to breast milk. They actually duplicate mom’s milk composition using a complex combination of sugars, proteins, vitamins, and fats.

The point is that infant formulas can provide all the nutrients baby needs to thrive and grow and they sometimes contain components (including vitamin D) that breastfed babies can’t get from mom’s milk. Plus, the US Food and Drug Administration provides regulations for formula producing companies, making them safe and beneficial for babies.

It will secure that companies ensure all the necessary nutrients in baby’s formulas and include all 29 required specific nutrients in each portion. It depends on you to estimate the positive and negative sides of using formula and to finally decide if it is better for you and your baby.

[Know More: Formula Feeding Basics]

Positive Sides of Formula Feeding

positive side of formula feeding

Convenience– Anyone, including the baby’s dad or babysitter, can feed the baby with formula at any time. It allows mom to have more sleep and spare time and helps dad to bond with the baby and to feel more involved in the feeding process.

The frequency of feedings– Infant formula is less digestible than breast milk, and you need to feed your baby less often than a breastfed baby.

Flexibility– A formula-feeding mom can leave her baby with a partner or babysitter once the bottle is made and go to her work or shopping. It is pretty helpful because there is no need to pump or to make changes to your work schedule depending on the feeding schedule of your baby.

Also, bottle feeding will allow both overwhelmed, love-struck, and (or) exhausted parents to share in the joy of feeding the baby and all the responsibilities that feeding brings.

There is no ‘guesswork’– One of the advantages of formula feeding is that you can fill a bottle and you will always know exactly how much of it your baby has consumed.

Your diet– If you choose to feed your baby with formula, you don’t need to worry about the things you drink and eat because your diet can’t affect your baby at all.

Necessity– Formula is the only solution when breastfeeding is medically contraindicated:

  • Inadequate breast milk supply
  • Inefficiently baby’s sucking
  • Baby is at risk for malnutrition
  • Baby’s allergic reaction
  • Possible transferring drugs which mom takes including cyclophosphamide, cimetidine, methotrexate, lithium, bromocriptine
  • Mom’s cytotoxic chemotherapy
  • Mom’s drug addiction
  • Mom’s health condition (HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis)
  • Mom’s breast surgery

The absence of the mother (abandoned, adopted, or orphaned baby)

More relaxing return to work – It is normal that leaving a baby at home after maternity can’t be easy, but formula feeding will facilitate the process. That means that you won’t need to spend a workday pumping even though it is feasible for some moms. But, in most cases, pumping will add more stress to the already stressful period. Whether someone likes it or not, the formula will make this problem less complicated.

Negative Sides of Formula Feeding

Be prepared on various challenges which will occur when you decide to start with formula feeding.

Negative Sides of Formula Feeding

Lack of antibodies – There are no antibodies in the manufactured formula which means that it can’t provide the passive immunity and added protection for your baby against diseases and infections that breast milk can.

Immutability of the formula – Manufactured formula doesn’t match the complexity of mom’s milk and can’t change with the changing of the baby’s needs.

Problems with gases and constipation – Infant formula may cause higher gas production and firmer bowel movements which can be a problem for your baby.

Planning – Formula is not always available, and you need to prepare it before giving a baby. It requires a lot of planning and the excellent organization. You need to buy formula in advance to make sure it is always on hand. Also, you need to have nipples and bottles easily accessible and clean at any time.

Personal problems – Breastfeeding can be painful, exhausting, stressful, and frustrating. If you feel that it is not for you, avoid additional stress and choose to be the best mom for your baby in the way which suits both you and your baby.

Expense – The formula is expensive. Even though you use the cheapest powdered formula, you will need about $1,500 for the first year of baby’s life. Not to mention more expensive formulas such as concentrated, ready-to-feed, and special ones (hypoallergenic or soy).

On the other hand, many companies send valuable coupons to help moms to lower the cost of baby feeding. For a start, sign up on their website. Once your baby is one-year-old, you will switch to plain milk.

People can make you feel bad – There is a real possibility that the members of your family, your friends, or even complete strangers will condemn your decision about bottle feeding your baby. It can make you feel bad, but you should learn to deal with views and comments. Prepare yourself to hear it and move on.

Plus, keep in mind that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data, 42.6% moms who breastfed their six-month-old infants use the formula to add supplements to babies’ diet. That means that you always can breastfeed your little one plus give her the formula as a nutrition supplement.

Formula Feeding Schedules

If you decide to feed your baby in this way, you should follow the adequate formula feeding guideline. Your newborn baby should start out with a small amount of formula at first. You can begin with 1-2 ounces (30–60 ml) per feeding in the very beginning.

After a while, you need to increase the amount to 2 to 3 ounces (60–90 ml) of formula every 3-4 hours during the first few weeks. Be prepared to wake your baby up and offer her a bottle if she sleeps longer than four to five hours during that first month and misses her regular feeding time.

Your baby will probably need at least 4 ounces (120 ml) of formula per feeding by the end of her first month, and you need to offer her the bottle every four hours by the schedule. She will need 24 to 32 ounces (six to seven feedings) a day by the time she is two months old. By her six months, your little one will consume approximately 6 to 8 ounces (180–240 ml) per feeding, four to five times in 24 hours.

I will give you a formula feeding schedule with an approximate amount of formula that your baby needs every day until the first year of her life.

Age Amount per feeding Feeding frequency
Newborn 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 ml) Every 3-4 hours
One month 4 ounces (120 ml) Every 4 hours
Two months 4 ounces (120 ml) 6-7 feedings per 24 hours
Four months 4 to 6 ounces (120 to 180 ml) 5-6 feedings per 24 hours
Six months 6 to 8 ounces (180 to 240 ml) 5 feedings per 24 hours
One year 8 ounces (240 ml) 2-3 feedings per 24 hours supplemented with baby food

The fact is that every child is different and sometimes an average formula feeding chart doesn’t fit. To check your baby’s needs, just do the simple Math. Your baby needs to take in about 2.5 ounces (75 ml) of formula a day on average for every pound (approximately 453 g) of her body weight. Treating your little one as a unique living being is always the best way to help her to become a sieve, healthy and advanced child.

It means that initially, you should feed her on demand (she will cry when she is hungry). Very quickly your baby will develop her own regular timetable, and you will learn how to understand her signals that she is hungry. As time passes, you will be able to harmonize her feeding schedule and your daily routine.

The Most Common Infant Formula Types

Common Infant Formula Types

Milk-based (iron-fortified) formula – A baby younger than twelve months shouldn’t use cow milk because it doesn’t provide the complete nutrition essential for child’s development and it is pretty hard to digest. An entirely different thing is with cow’s milk-based formulas for bottle-feeding. In the process, cow’s milk is modified for the baby’s needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends this formula because it contains altered, easily digestible proteins, lactose (milk sugar), vegetable oil, and iron (essential for baby’s appropriate development and growth). It is most similar to breast milk, and you should use this formula at least until your baby’s first birthday.

Organic formula – It is a pretty exclusive formula, made from milk products produced without using herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics. Except they are subject to the same FDA regulations, these formulas must have a certificate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they are organic.

Many doctors considered it healthier, but you should pay attention to sugar content. It is useless using this one which contains a lot of sucrose (cane sugar). It is significantly sweeter than the sugar used in the regular formula and could cause problems such as excess weight gain and (or) tooth decay.

Hydrolyzed (predigested) formula – This is one of the special formulas because it contains ‘broken’ proteins. When proteins are broken down into smaller parts, they are not such difficult for your baby to digest. There are a lot of reasons to consider switching to partially or fully hydrolyzed formula. Before you make this choice, go to your pediatrician and talk with him about various options of bottle-feeding if your baby is allergy-prone.

Soy-based formula – It is made from soybeans supplemented with minerals, vitamins, and other essential nutrients. No one will recommend this type of formula as a drink-of-choice because it is more different from human milk than cow’s milk. But, it is an irreplaceable option under certain circumstances including baby’s intolerance to galactose and cow’s milk allergy (in the second case, you need to test your baby because almost 35% of infants who suffer from milk allergy can also be sensitive to soy protein).

Special formula – It is an ideal solution for babies allergic to soy formulas and cow’s milk (if they can’t tolerate whey and casein), for infants that need to restrict salt intake, premature babies, low birth weight infants, and babies with any metabolic disorder. Don’t use this hypoallergenic and lactose-free formula without consultations with your pediatrician.

Prebiotic and probiotic formula – Nowadays, some formulas are fortified with probiotics (bacteria which prevent diarrhea in healthy children). Pay attention that you shouldn’t give probiotics to seriously ill baby. On the other hand, some formulas contain prebiotics (they reduce the possibility of infections in healthy children).

Follow-up formula – It is an excellent formula for a bottle-feeding baby who is older than four months and already eats solid foods.

DHA and ARA formula – Some formula contains polyunsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and (or) arachidonic acid (ARA), which is very desirable.

These ‘good fats’ are connected to the baby’s nerves and brain development and represent natural ingredients which are found in breast milk, eggs, and fish oil. Some manufacturers claim that putting DHA and ARA in formulas is the way of imitating breast milk, but opinions are divided, and there is still no clear evidence for these assertions.

Three Basic Formula Forms

Companies in the US manufacture three different forms of formula which have to meet strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s nutritional standards.

Powders – This formula is the least expensive, and you just need to mix it with water.

Concentrates – This formula is liquid, and you need to dilute it with water.

Ready-to-feed (ready-to-use) – It is the most expensive, liquid formula which you can pour right into the baby bottle. It is really convenient when you travel or simply don’t have time to make formula for your baby quickly.

Keep in mind that a name brand formula is not necessarily the best choice for your baby. Before buying, check its generic name and the expiration date. Also, avoid formula from damaged, leaky, or dented cans or bottles.

The Best Formula for Your Baby

Best Formula for Your Baby

I know that picking out the right formula between a whole bunch of them on store shelves can be pretty confusing and annoying. There are some tips to help you with your decision. Each baby is different, and the same formula doesn’t fit for each of them. Choose smart! Your baby deserves the right formula.

Talk with the baby’s doctor. Her pediatrician can help you to reduce available choices to a reasonable level. Once you understand what type of formula is best for your baby, it will be easy to choose the most reliable manufacturer and the formula your baby like.

The majority of newborn babies use standard cow’s milk-based formula, but some of them (premature babies or infants with intolerance and allergies) need special ones.

Generally speaking, you should avoid low-iron formulas to prevent possible anemia. Also, pay attention that those expensive formulas are not necessarily good for your baby. For example, special formulas are costly, but they are for specific cases, and you shouldn’t use them before consultations with the doctor.

One more thing! Don’t switch formulas too quickly only because your baby spits it up in the beginning. It is not necessarily a signal of any problem. Actually, most pediatricians recommend using the same formula for approximately one week. Then you will decide if your baby keeps spitting it. Otherwise, changing the formula too frequently can cause digestive issues for your little one.

Tips for the Appropriate Newborn Baby Formula Feeding

The formula can be used only once – After prepare infant formula, you can keep it in the refrigerator for 48 hours. If the baby has touched the nipple, you should throw out the amount remains after feeding.

Mix it right – Follow the directions. You will need to mix some formula with water, and you need to measure proportion precisely. The under-diluted formula can lead to problems including dehydration. On the other hand, the over-diluted formula will interfere with your baby’s proper nutrition and overall growth.

Hand washing – Before you start to prepare formula for your baby, you need to wash your hands carefully.

Washing equipment for feeding – Wash and rinse artificial nipples and bottles very carefully using hot and clean water. Also, it is necessary to boil (sterilize) all equipment. It is essential to remove the leftover formula to avoid spoiling your baby’s stomach.

[Learn More: Baby Bottle Sterilizers]

Heating formula – You can’t heat formula in the microwave! The proper way is to place the bottle in a bowl full of hot water for a few minutes. Use it after when you warm it up to the room temperature.

Check the temperature – Before giving a bottle to your baby, squeeze a couple of drops on your inner wrist. It is the best way to check whether the milk temperature is adequate.

Switching formula – If your baby has any digestive problem, you should change the formula. Also, switching to a soy formula can help your baby with allergies but before you do it, talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner.

Different digestion – Formula moves more slowly through the baby’s digestive tract than breast milk so you can expect a bit longer time between feedings. And don’t worry if you notice that your baby’s stool is a bit drier and more substantial than in breastfed babies. It is quite normal.

Which way of feeding is the best option for your baby is usually a pretty hard decision. The truth is that you will make the right choice only after your baby comes. It is not rare that a woman decides on one method before the labor, but changes her mind after her baby is born. The only thing that really matters is that you pick out the way which fits the best for your baby, for you, and for the whole lifestyle of your family.

Click here to know more about the breastfeeding and bottle feeding.


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