Doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for babies till the minimum age of 6 months. Breast milk provides the right nutrients and antibodies to strengthen your baby’s immune system as well. However, due to various reasons, mothers may sometimes need to opt out of breastfeeding their little ones. In such cases, the ideal alternative is infant formula. Let’s understand more about infant formula and formula feeding with these must-know guidelines below. This formula feeding guide will help ensure that your baby gets complete nutrition to grow and develop normally.
Although it is highly recommended that a baby be exclusively breastfed for the initial few months of his life, there are instances where a mother may need to feed formula milk. She may be suffering from poor milk supply, have personal problems, or need to get back to work. She may even be advised by a professional health expert to introduce or supplement with formula feeds in the infant’s diet. This can happen if the baby is not gaining enough weight or when there are problems with bowel movements.
Here are 6 extremely crucial points one should keep in mind while feeding formula to babies.
Easy-to-Follow Formula Feeding Guide
Note: Always make sure you consult a paediatrician and weigh the formula feeding pros and cons carefully before starting with it. Having said that, here are few easy tips to remember that will ensure the little one is well-fed and healthy.
1. Always Toss Away The Leftover Formula In The Bottle
Your baby may drink half of the formula in the bottle and you might save the remaining formula for his next feeding trying to ensure no wastage. However, you shouldn’t do so. Bacteria that entered from your baby’s saliva into the remaining formula may multiply, so its better to toss away the leftover formula.
Tip: It’s preferable to give smaller or less quantity feedings to avoid wastage. You can feed more frequently if need be, going by your baby’s hunger cues such as licking lips, opening his mouth, being restless, or crying. You can read about hunger cues in babies in detail here.
2. Baby’s Poop Turns Darker & Smellier Due To Formula – It’s Normal
Formula fed baby’s poop is usually darker in colour and firmer than breast fed baby’s poop. Also, poop of formula fed infant smells stronger than that of a breast fed infant. There is nothing to worry about; this is totally normal and happens due to the difference in composition between breastmilk and formula milk. However, if the baby’s poop is either very runny or too hard, it indicates a problem. He may be suffering from dehydration, constipation or diarrhoea. See the paediatrician to diagnose the problem.
3. Formula-Fed Baby May Eat Less
Formula milk stays in the tummy of your baby for a long time, and it is more difficult to digest than breast milk. Also, it makes your infant feel full for several hours. So, your baby may eat lesser than breast fed baby. Also, your infant requires longer breaks between feedings. Plan his schedule accordingly.
4. It Is Not Mandatory To Warm Up Formula Before Feeding
Even if you feel like you must warm the formula milk and then provide the warmed milk to your baby, it is not necessary. Heating the formula milk does not increase nutrients or health benefits. Only the taste matters. Some babies like to have warm formula while some infants like cold formula or formula at room temperature. So, it is advisable to start giving room temperature warm formula to your little one and if he doesn’t like it then warm it up and feed it. However, make sure you do not heat it in a microwave. Doing this can affect the composition of the formula.
Another strict rule is to never reheat formula. Most formula milk brands forbid reheating formula as doing this can affect its composition and make it difficult to absorb for the baby. The standard shelf life of formula is 1.5 – 3 hours. If you have formula older than the given shelf life, do not use it.
5. Use Formula Feeding as a Method to Promote Family Bonding
Any family member, say father, grandparents, and siblings of the baby, can feed formula milk to your baby and share the pleasure of feeding the new member of your family. Thus, formula feeding promotes family bonding. Encourage loved ones to formula feed your baby when they are free. Only remember to choose the right bottle that matches your baby’s age and needs. Instruct your family members to feed the baby in a suitable bottle-feeding position so the milk can go down properly. Holding the bottle with one hand at a 45-degree angle while supporting your baby in the other arm is a good option. Raise your baby’s head slightly to prevent choking and ear infections.
There are multiple benefits of doing this. Your family members would love to cuddle your baby and feed him formula milk. Providing your baby such warmth and love also promotes his optimum brain development and bonding with the family.
6. Your Infant May Develop Allergic Reaction To Formula – Watch Out
Even though most infants digest formula easily, some babies may develop an allergic reaction to the cow’s milk protein content present in the formula. Baby’s bowel movements can tell you about the digestion of formula and whether your little one suffers from any allergic reaction due to formula.
If you find mucus or blood in bowels then it is a sign of allergy. Also, vomiting, skin rash, diarrhoea, and irritability are signs of allergy. Consult your doctor if you observe any such kind of allergic reaction, and your doctor may recommend an extra-hydrolyzed formula or formula prepared using soy.