In becoming a new mom, it’s almost as though everything in life needs recalibration. Everything is brand new territory. Topping the charts of something one has probably never considered before having a baby or exposure to one regularly is: infant formula.
The conversation on breastfeeding can be pretty aggressive, and attitudes about formula have their range. This is your notification, mama. If you’ve chosen to use formula, well on you. The goal is to feed your baby, and if you’re doing that—you’re doing GR8.
Here’s everything you need to know about formula.
What Kind of Formulas Exist?
There are three commonly used types of formula cleared by the FDA for consumption by infants.
Dairy: A blend of processed cow milk that makes it more digestible for babies and is adjusted in nutrient content.
Soy: Animal protein-free, soy is a good alternative for babies who do not do well with animal protein-based mixtures. It is important to note, however, that both can trigger allergies.
Hydrolysate: Protein has been shrunk and broken down for the easiest digestion possible. In this form, protein is available in a dosage that is safe for babies with a protein allergy.
There are different blends of formula that serve infants who are particularly sensitive or have a specific health condition that requires specialized care such as premature birth.
How They Come
Varying in price, you can purchase formula in the following forms:
$$$ Ready-to-use: For convenience, pre-mixed and ready for immediate use.
$$ Concentrated: A liquid blend that you mix with water.
$ Powdered: A blend in powder form that you mix with water.
How Do I Know What Kind of Formula to Use?
In most cases, an iron-fortified formula is the best choice. Even in babies who do not lack iron, adverse effects are not likely. However, checking with your doctor is always advised. Speaking with a doctor will also help to identify your baby’s specific dietary needs, if any.
For example, if a baby’s digestive system is acting up outside of switching from dairy to plant-based, it might be useful to try a formula that integrates probiotics. Similarly, if you’re aware of common heredity allergies in your family, hydrolysate formula may be good as not to disrupt sensitivity.
Understanding the Signals
If only babies could speak and tell us what they need. Well, they certainly try! Among trying to decode cries and tantrums, paying careful attention to how the infant responds to the formula is a worthy focus. The following are indications of what to look for.
Signs the Formula is Working
You’ll know if a formula is safe and effective for your baby if:
- They urinate 6-8 times per day.
- They gain weight within the first ten days after birth.
- Their stool is runny in the beginning but regulates as they grow.
- They have 2-5 bowel movements per day.
Signs the Formula Should be Changed
Reconsider the formula you’re trying if:
- Skin irritations occur.
- They have diarrhea.
- Vomiting occurs.
- Crying and tantrums after feeding worsen.
- Loose, liquid stool.
- Excessive gas.
How to Prepare Infant Formula
Directions on how to prepare formula will depend on the kind you use. Keep these tips in mind for preparing it properly for ingestion.
- Check the expiration date. Never use formula past its expiration date.
- Make sure to wash hands before preparing.
- Ensure that all tools are sterile, including any caps, rings, bottles, and the nipple.
- Follow instructions closely.
- Do not store formula after one hour of using as the bacteria it has been exposed to can multiply and become harmful for the baby.
Note temperature: Optimal formula temperature will vary from baby to baby. Some are okay with it cold, some room temp, and some warm. If you’re heating formula, never do so in the microwave. Uneven heating can result in an overly abrasive and hot blend that could burn their mouth.
The most important aspect of formula? If it’s contributing to your baby’s health in the way that it needs to. If you observe some sort of irregularity, don’t hesitate to reach out to a pediatrician regarding the formula you’re using, and any other potential complications.