There is a lot of debate in the media at the moment about the best way to feed a baby – breast milk or formula. Whilst many are strongly in favor of breastfeeding, there are others who argue that ‘fed is best’ – something I have to agree with. However, formula feeding can be a confusing affair for new parents – so let’s take a look at some of those burning questions new moms and dads ask about feeding their infant. Don’t forget to let us know below if you have any other tips to share, or advice for those who are new to formula feeding!
How long is prepared formula good for?
The answer to this question is, it depends on how it has been stored. If your baby has been drinking from a bottle, throw away any milk which is left over after a feed. This is because bacteria from the baby’s saliva can mix with the milk and cause it to go bad. Unused milk can be kept at room temperature for around one hour before it should be discarded, as long as the bottle hasn’t been drank from.
However, formula milk can safely be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Some parents choose to make a full day’s worth of bottles in the morning, so they just need to be heated at the time of feeding. This is a good method once your baby is in a good routine and you know how much they need per feed and how many bottles they will drink throughout the day. It can be useful to have a bottle or two made up for night feeds – and this can be prevent mom or dad from making a mistake when prepping a bottle in the middle of the night!
If you buy ready-to-drink formula, the leftover portion can be stored in the refrigerator for 48 hours before it should be discarded. Again, you should pour away any milk in the bottle your baby has been drinking from once they are finished.
How often do you feed a newborn?
A newborn baby has a very small stomach, so they need fed very often. Expect to be giving a newborn a bottle around every 2 or 3 hours, day and night, during the early weeks. This might drop to every 3 or 4 hours as your baby grows, and they should (hopefully!) start to feed less at night, too. A newborn typically eats around 2 ounces per feeding, which might increase to around 4 ounces towards the end of the first month of life.
A good general rule to find out how much to feed your baby is this: take the baby’s weight in pounds and multiply it by 2.5. This is the roughly the number of ounces of milk the baby needs per day. Of course, there are easy ways to tell if your baby is getting enough milk. For starters, they will probably let you know if they’re still hungry! You can also monitor your baby’s weight gain and ensure it is as expected for their age. Growth varies as your baby goes through growth spurts, but as long as they are gaining weight (some loss in the first week or two is normal), you can be sure all is well. You should also pay attention to your infant’s diapers as this is a good clue they are getting enough milk. Babies should have around 6-8 wet diapers per day, although during the first couple of days it can be less.
How many baby bottles do I need?
The number of bottles you will need depends on whether you are breast feeding, formula feeding or using a combination of the two. It also depends on the baby’s age, and therefore how many times a day they will be feeding. Some parents have fewer bottles and wash them often, whereas others prefer to have plenty bottles and wash them once a day or so.
As a general guide, 6-8 is a good number to start with. If you will be using them only some of the time, you might find 2-4 is enough. However, if you are busy and will be feeding from a bottle at every feed, you might need up to 10 or 12 bottles for a young baby who feeds every few hours.
It’s also worth mentioning here that not all babies take a bottle at first. You might need to try a couple of different brands before you find something your baby will accept. This is especially an issue with babies who are combination fed – they can get confused between the bottle teat and the mother’s nipple, as each requires a slightly different action. In this case, it’s a good idea to choose a bottle nipple which is designed to mimic breastfeeding.
What do I need to start feeding my baby?
Once you have decided how many bottles and nipples you will need, it’s time to think about any other accessories you might need. You will most likely want a sterilizer, to make keeping your baby bottles clean and germ-free quicker and easier. It’s advisable to also choose a bottle brush to make sure you can thoroughly clean inside the bottle and nipple. A bottle drying rack is also great, as this offers a clean place to leave the bottles to dry out until they will be used again. There are dishwasher trays designed to hold baby bottles and accessories too, which can be helpful if you are going to be washing the bottles in the dishwasher.
Some other accessories which can make life a bit easier, but are less essential include a bottle warmer, and a travel bottle. Bottle warmers are ideal for heating milk to body temperature, and guarantee the milk will be just right every time. However, you can also warm milk by placing the bottle in a container of boiling water – although it can be more difficult to get the temperature right using this method. A travel bottle is ideal for parents who will need to feed their baby on the go – they can hold the powder and the water separately, so it can be mixed at the time of feeding. Some also hold the water or milk at the right temperature, meaning you can feed your baby easily when out and about. Or, you can choose an insulated bottle bag to keep the bottles at the right temperature for a couple of hours.
Once your baby is a little older, you might like to get them a bottle holder, so they can feed themselves. You can also find straps to hold bottles, to prevent your baby from throwing them out of the stroller if they are feeding themselves. Of course, these are optional, and can wait until your baby is a little bit older.
Formula feeding on the go
As we’ve mentioned above, travel bottles are great for when you need to feed your baby during a day out. Some cafes have facilities where you can warm a bottle using a bottle warmer, or they will be able to provide you with some hot water to heat the bottle. You can also carry the milk powder and a clean bottle, and ask for some water to make up the bottle in a cafe or restaurant. Ready-made formula can be an easier solution for days out. Some come with nipples so can be fed straight from the bottle. If your baby doesn’t mind drinking cold or room-temperature milk, ready-to-use formula is perfect because you won’t need to find a place to heat it before feeding either! The first time you venture out with your newborn alone might be scary – but don’t worry after a bit of practice you’ll become better at preparing and will be confident feeding your baby anywhere!