Taking care of a baby is no joke! They are adorable little attention hogs and time stealers. Parents spend so much time, especially at the beginning, feeding a baby that there are many ways to do improperly. Whether you are formula feeding, breastfeeding, pumping or a combination of all three, you may very easily be making a huge mistake with how you are feeding the baby. Many parents don’t even realize that what they are doing could actually harm their precious little bundle of joy.
Storing breast milk is very different than storing a formula bottle. And the ready to use formula has different storage requirements than the powdered formula does. If a baby drinks from a formula bottle but leaves half of it in there and falls asleep, is it safe to reuse? How long can a pumped bottle of breastmilk safely sit out before it’s stored in a breastmilk bag in the freezer? How long is it good in the freezer? So many different questions and ways of making and storing milk. All of which we answer here with the 15 mistakes moms are making when it comes to feeding the baby.
15 Giving The Baby A Bottle Unattended
Parenting is exhausting. The hardest physical labor a person can do is care for a newborn. If you have toddlers running around too, forget about it. Who needs the gym when you barely sit, eat, or bathe? How many times have you been tempted to just plop the baby down with a bottle and go take a shower, or maybe a coveted bowl of cereal? The temptation is real and understandable but doing so could really be cause for concern. It doesn’t take long for a baby to choke on milk. Any nursing mom or bottle-feeding mom can attest to the fact that when a baby is starving they try to gulp so fast it usually ends in coughing and crying. If the baby is left unattended and begins to cough he/she may not be able to get the bottle out of their mouth in time and could choke. A better plan is to feed the baby, and then place the baby in a swing or in the crib while you shower. A little crying won’t hurt him, but a bottle unattended could.
14 Not Using Milk Savers
Breastfeeding is a full-time job for a mom. Babies eat ver often and rely on mom for comfort, nourishment, and love. Producing breast milk is a feat of epic proportions. Breast milk contains protein, immunoglobulins, fats, vitamins, lysozyme, lactoferrin, and many other properties that are essential to a baby’s health and wellness. Producing this perfect milk takes a lot out of a mom so wasting breast milk is not an option. Milk savers are like nursing pads except they save the milk that leaks out when the baby is nursing from the other side. They are genius and every mom should have them. Nursing pads are helpful in keeping your bra and shirt from getting saturated with milk, but they aren’t actually helping with your milk storage. Using milk savers can help bulk up your freezer supply without needing to pump for the times you need to escape baby-free.
13 Not Cleaning The Breastpump
Moms who use breast pumps on a regular basis are nothing short of heroes. Pumping milk is not only time consuming and challenging, but it also requires an awful lot of cleaning, as every part needs to be wiped down with care. Working moms pump throughout the day in order to keep their supply high and to provide enough milk for the baby. Some moms who stay home pump so that they have extra for when the baby needs to stay with a babysitter so that mom can get out of the house for a little while. In any case, proper cleaning and sterilization of the pump and all of its parts is crucial to keeping the baby healthy. Improper cleaning can lead to the baby ingesting harmful bacteria that can make the baby very sick.
12 Leaving Breastmilk Out For Longer Than 4 Hours
Breast milk is also known as liquid gold for a reason. It is jammed packed with awesome goodness that the baby needs. Vitamins, fats, and good bacteria are only the tip of the breast milk iceberg. That being said, breast milk is not invincible. It does have a shelf life. When milk is pumped, it can be left out, or in a diaper bag for 4 hours, but it shouldn’t be left out longer than that. It should be refrigerated, at the very least. Though it does contain good bacteria, it can begin to go bad if not kept at a cool temperature. Ice packs are great for when mom is out and needs to keep it cool. An insulated cooler with ice packs is ideal if you have no access to a refrigerator or freezer for some time. But do not leave milk sitting out all day or overnight and then expect to freeze it. This could really make the baby sick.
11 Storing A Used Formula Bottle For Later
If you think Starbucks lattes are expensive, they have nothing on the cost of baby formula. You might need to refinance your house to pay for a canister, especially if your baby has dietary needs and food intolerances. Since the cost is so high, you may be tempted to save every last drop, even saving a used bottle. But don’t! If a baby doesn’t finish a formula bottle within an hour of making it, throw it away. When a baby sucks from a bottle, saliva can backwash into it. This can cause dangerous bacteria to contaminate the milk. This breeding ground of bacteria will simply grow and thrive, even in the refrigerator until the baby is given it again. Stick to smaller bottles if you aren’t sure how much the baby will take in a sitting.
10 Putting Breastmilk In Ice Cube Trays
Pinterest is a fabulous place to find so many ideas for just about anything you can think of. Moms have creative ways of doing nearly anything, even making baby food and breast milk storage. A popular idea is to store breast milk in ice cube trays so that they are the perfect size for thawing and reheating. The problem with using normal ice cube trays is that they are uncovered and can allow for bacteria to infiltrate the milk. A better idea is to purchase ice cube trays specifically for breast milk that come with a lid that seals out the air and contaminants. The cubed milk can be used in a bottle for later use, or even in a mesh baby feeder as a way to helping with teething and keeping the baby occupied.
9 Using Hot Tap Water To Make A Bottle
The baby’s crying. You are exhausted. Your hands are full, carrying the baby, your hair is most likely in a crazy mom-bun and you feel too overwhelmed to comfort your little one. A very tempting way to give the baby an instantly warm bottle is to use warm/hot tap water to mix with the formula. Bad idea! Warm or hot tap water can be contaminated with lead or other harmful materials. It is best to use cold tap water and heat it in a bowl of warm water. Hot tap water is never recommended for a baby’s bottle or for drinking. The FDA even recommends boiling tap water and letting it cool before using it. This is to ensure that it is sterile from all possible contaminants. The convenience is not worth the risk!
8 Not Putting Dates On Breastmilk Bags In The Freezer
Pumping breast milk requires a lot of work and time. Proper storage of the breast milk is very important to ensure that you are keeping your milk safe for the baby. Properly labeling breast milk storage bags will help you to know how long it has been in the freezer for so that you know when it needs to be used by. The rule of thumb for breast milk is 6 months in a normal refrigerator’s freezer and up to 12 months in a deep freezer (but 6 months is the recommended amount). Using a permanent marker or label maker, mark the bag with the date you pumped it, as well as the expiration date. This will really be helpful in the long run. If you plan to stock up and store as much as you can, you want to have them labeled correctly. Using bins in your freezer can help too. You could use a bin per month, based on the month that they need to be used by.
7 Overfeeding The Baby
Whether you believe that breast is best, or fed is best, it is possible to overfeed a baby. Breastfed babies really can’t be overfed. Even though it’s impossible to know how much they are consuming each time, experts say that breastfed babies can't be overfed because they stop sucking after they're full. Formula fed babies can though. Formula costs a fortune, and the bottle cannot safely be reused after the baby drinks from it. Most parents do not want to waste the bottle, so they coax the baby into finishing it, even if he seems satisfied. This may seem harmless and a way to save money but overfeeding a baby can be bad for his health. A formula fed baby who overeats has a much higher risk of obesity later in life.
6 Heating Milk In The Microwave
When a baby is hungry there is this urgent desire in the parent to feed the baby ASAP. No parent wants to make their baby wait longer than necessary to feed them. A breastfeeding mom can get stressed just trying to get the baby positioned and latched in a mere few seconds, but when it comes to heating up a bottle, the easiest way to heat it would be in a microwave. Don't do it. That’s just a bad idea. Microwaves heat food unevenly causing hot spots in the milk. Those hot spots could burn the baby’s mouth and esophagus. A safer way of heating up breast milk or a formula bottle is to use a bowl or mug of hot water and sit the bottle of milk inside it. This will heat the milk a bit more slowly than a microwave, but it is the safest way.
5 Not Accurately Mixing The Bottle
Mixing formula is very simple. You follow the guidelines on the container and make sure that you level out the scooper as you go. Simply add the powdered formula to the water (either room temp, cold, or warm) and shake the bottle and then serve it to the baby. Properly following the instructions is so important. Otherwise, the baby could get a watered down bottle that is lacking in the necessary protein, fat, and nutrients he needs or one that contains too much formula. Liquid formula is easier in this sense since it does not need to be mixed. If you feel rushed at feeding time, measure out the powdered formula ahead of time and store in containers. This way when it’s time to feed the baby, you simply need to add water.
4 Improperly Sterilizing The Bottles
Brand new baby bottles need to be properly sterilized before they can be used. Though this is a giant pain in the butt when you are a busy mom just trying to take care of your kids, it’s a necessary step in preventing your baby from getting sick. The easiest way is to soak the bottles (and pacifiers when you get new ones) in a big pot of clean, boiling water for about five minutes or so. This will kill off any bacteria or germs that may be on the bottles. This is not necessary going forward but is recommended that it be done sporadically to keep the bottles as clean as possible. There are special bottle sterilizers on the market that you can buy as well, though a big pot of boiling water works great.
3 Letting The Formula Bottle Sit Out For Too Long
Babies eat so often that it can get a bit overwhelming for new parents. They eat, poop, sleep, and repeat all day, every day for quite a while. You may mix a bottle for the baby, and then leave it to sit on the counter because he fell asleep before you could give it to him. Later, you are attempting to do laundry that’s been neglected and realize that the bottle is still sitting on the counter. But is it still good? It depends on how much time has passed. If the bottle was made within an hour's time it can safely be stored in the refrigerator for when the baby is ready to eat again. This is only true if the bottle was never drunk from. If the baby has already sucked on it, it should not be reused but disposed of.
2 Nip Shields Overused
Labor is painful. It is one of the most painful things that a body can possibly go through. After the baby is born and the delivery part is over, it’s time for nursing for many moms. Breastfeeding takes some getting used to for most moms and babies. It seems like it would be so easy but for most women, it is not. Breastfeeding can be extremely painful while the woman’s skin and nipples adjust to it. Not only that but if the baby isn’t properly latching, it can be excruciating for the mother. This is where many women turn to nipple shields to help ease the pain. Nipple shields are great for women with flat or inverted nipples but shouldn’t be used very often with a newborn baby unless you plan to only use the shield. It is very hard to get a baby to latch on without them once they get used to sucking a certain way.
1 Keeping Ready-To-Use Formula Open For More Than 48 Hours
Ready to use formula has many benefits to the powder formula. The biggest benefit is that you don’t have any mixing or measuring to do. Simply pour into the bottle (heat if necessary) and feed to the baby. Ready to use formulas have one very big drawback though. You must use the contents within 48 hours or else you need to discard it. After 2 day's time, the formula can be contaminated and unsafe to drink. Labeling a bottle of ready to use formula with the date it was opened using either a permanent marker or label will help keep you from accidentally serving the baby old milk. Days blur together and weeks fly by so this is a great idea to keep you from being unsure and guessing. Safety first!
Sources: GraceAndMotherhood.com, MayoClinic.org, Similac.com, Food and Drug Administration, Kellymom.com, Healthline.com, TheGuardian.com, BabyCenter.com, Parents.com