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Formula Feeding

Know or suspect that you won’t be breastfeeding? You’re not alone. Just like Babble’s respected blogger Katie Allison Granju, who wrote a book about breastfeeding and then recently found herself formula-feeding, many women find that for whatever reason, nursing isn’t right for them. Some women just don’t produce enough milk, and others simply choose not to. The best thing to do when you find yourself in one of these situations is to be kind to yourself, remember that this was your decision to make in the first place, and know that the vast majority of formula-fed babies are happy and healthy. In other words, you’re still doing great.

Here’s a peek at what formula feeding will involve, how you can prepare, and what challenges you can anticipate along the way.

Formula-Feeding Basics

Choosing a formula

Your pediatrician is the best person to help you select a formula that’s right for your little one. Some formulas come in liquid form and others in powder.

Supplies you’ll need

Formula feeding isn’t necessarily more expensive than breastfeeding, but you will need to stock up on supplies. Here’s all you need to know about finding the right bottle and nipple for your baby and how to keep both clean:

How to introduce your baby to the bottle if you have not breastfed

  • After delivery, ask your nurse or doula to demonstrate how to bottle feed
  • Hold your baby at a 45-degree angle
  • Tilt the bottle so that the nipple is always full of formula
  • Always warm the bottle (not in the microwave), but test the temperature before you give it to your baby to make sure it’s warm, not hot
  • Never prop up the bottle during a feeding – it’s a choking hazard

How to introduce your baby to the bottle if you’re switching from breastfeeding

  • Follow the baby- and bottle-positioning steps above
  • Let someone else feed your baby the first bottle; if you try to feed her with the boob so close, she may be fussier.
  • Try to be out of the house during that first formula feeding – otherwise your baby will smell you (up to 20 feet away!) and still be distracted.

How much should you feed?

How many bottles should baby be drinking, and how much formula do you put in each bottle? While baby knows best and will stop when she’s full, it helps to be aware of what a healthy intake looks like. Take a look at the Babble formula feeding chart for reference, and here’s how to make sure baby’s getting enough to eat.

Feeding and Digestive Issues

Newborns can be susceptible to a number of different tummy troubles. Here’s a quick primer of things to keep an eye out for, and how to help baby if she has them:

Gas

  • Position the bottle as vertically as possible so that the nipple is always filled with milk, not air. Also make sure that the flow isn’t too fast or slow for the baby, both of which can cause air to be gulped.
  • Burp your baby every couple of ounces during feedings to get out any excess air in her or his tummy
  • Here are more ways to reduce baby gas

Reflux

  • Feed baby more frequently but in smaller portions
  • Burp your baby more often than normal
  • Ask your doctor about adding rice cereal to baby’s formula
  • Here are more ways to reduce reflux discomfort

Constipation

  • Ask your doctor about possibly switching formula brands
  • Move baby’s legs in a circular bicycle-like motion while lying on her back
  • Increase the amount of fluids in your baby’s diet
  • When to call the doctor

Vomiting

  • Vomiting after a feeding is fairly normal, due to overfeeding. Give baby smaller portions and burp more often.
  • Here are other symptoms to watch out for when baby is vomiting, what they mean, and when you should call the doctor

Diarrhea

  • You might have to switch to a soy-based or lactose-free formula; sometimes babies can develop lactose intolerance, which is usually temporary.
  • Here are more things you can do if your baby has diarrhea

Still have questions? Here are more trusted formula feeding tips to support you along the way.

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