Formula feeding is an alternative option for women who are unable to breastfeed their child. It is important that you provide the right formula to your child so that he gets all the necessary nutrients. Learn the basics of formula feeding and few tips that may help you when you feed your child.
Last Updated: 23 October 2020
Breastfeeding provides the best source of nutrition and protects your baby against infection and illness. Not all mothers are able to breastfeed due to their comfort level, lifestyle and their medical conditions. In such cases you have to completely depend on formula feeding. Formula feeding has certain advantages like convenience (anyone can feed your child); feeding intervals are less as formula milk takes time to get digested than breast milk. Also your partner can help you in nighttime feedings and there are no food restrictions to be followed by the mother.Formula milk
Formula milk is usually prepared in a way that is suitable for infants. Formula can be in powder or liquid form. If it is in powder form, add it to water that you have sterilized. Liquid formulas are ready to use. Using it in powder form allows you to use when you need and it is more economical than liquid form.Amount of formula feed
Every baby is unique. How much and how often she requires the formula depends on your baby’s requirement.
First few days: If your baby is on exclusively infant formula, she may require 1 to 2 ounces of infant formula every 2 to 3 hours. She may require 8 to 12 times of infant formula in 24 hours.
First weeks and months: During this time, your baby may require feeding every 3 to 4 hours.
6 to 12 months old: You can start solid foods when she is six months old and start minimizing the amount of infant formula (4 to 5 feedings in 24 hours).
12 to 24 months: Infant formula can be turned into fortified cow’s milk when your child is one year old.
It is estimated that on an average your baby may require 75ml of formula a day for every pound (453g) of body weight.
If your child has six wet nappies per day and gains adequate weight and stays active, it means she is getting enough amount of formula.
Which formula milk to choose?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and FDA strictly does not recommend homemade infant formulas. These homemade formulas have the risk of contamination, may be dangerous to your child’s health and may contain minimum nutrients. There are a number of brands of formula milk available in the market. The one you choose should be prepared on cow’s milk, has a low protein level and soy free. You must make sure that the formula contains whey protein as the main protein. Most of the formulas will be labeled as ‘suitable from birth’, ‘newborn’ or whey dominant’. Some formulas are casein dominant which should not be given to infants less than one year old. .Extra ingredients in the formula
Fatty acids: Breast milk contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and these LCPUFA like DHA and AA are now available in formulas as well. They are important for brain and eyes development.
Alpha lactalbumin: This is the main type of whey protein present in breast milk and formula that are highly important for babies.
Probiotics and prebiotics: To maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some formulas. Probiotics are good bacteria and prebiotics are sugars that promote the growth of good bacteria.
Lutein: This nutrient is necessary for eye health.
There are also special types of formulas like lactose free, soy based and hypoallergenic formulas available that are designed for special nutritional needs. Unless recommended by a doctor, these special formulas are not necessary. Fortified cow’s milk enriched with vitamin D and calcium can also be given to infants who are more than one year old.
How to feed your baby with formula?
· Wash your hands well before preparing the formula for your infant. Clean and sanitize the space you are planning to prepare the formula.
· Clean and sterilize the bottles well beforehand.
· Learn the instructions manual before you start the preparation
· If you are using powdered infant formula, make sure the water you add is sterilized properly. Always add the water in the bottle first before adding the powdered formula. Add the right amount of water. Too little water may cause dehydration, and diluting it with large volume of water may dilute the nutrients in the formula too.
· Never warm up the infant formula in a microwave. Microwave heats the contents unevenly and there are high chances that it burns your baby’s mouth.
It is advisable to store the unopened infant formula containers in a cool, dry and indoor place. Also use the prepared infant formula within two hours of preparation. If you are not planning to use the prepared formula within two hours, transfer it to fridge and use within 24 hours. Throw away the left ones in the bottle after use. Clean and sterilize the bottles well before next use.
Tips to follow
· Keep hot or boiling liquids, chemicals and chemical solutions out of reach of children
· When you feed your baby, hold them in an upright position
· Feed them with smaller amounts at a time
· During each feeding, burp your baby several times to prevent reflex.
· Make feeding time calm and relaxed.
Your baby’s feeding needs will be unique and you can schedule it as per his needs.