Most new parents, and even some of the veteran parents, tend to run into issues when it comes to properly feeding their newborn babies. It's definitely a science that takes time and preparation to perfect, since every situation and baby is different when it comes to the type of milk and finding the best time to feed them.
This is especially true when it comes to formula feeding for the simple fact that most babies, if not all, gravitate naturally toward breast milk. Some babies have to develop a taste for formula milk instead. And oftentimes there’s an outright rejection of this type of milk by the baby in those first few days of their life.
Feeding the little one is one of the most important tasks a new parent will engage in.
Feeding the baby sounds simple, but it is often anything but. Parens can always get tips from their doctor or their child’s pediatrician. There’s more to the process than just feeding the baby. There are specific things parents can do and others they should not do.
There is a process each parent needs to take to ensure they are properly feeding their baby the right type of formula and at the right time that works for both parent and child. It will take patience to perfect the science but learning what to do and what not to do helps make the process easier and quicker. Here are 15 mistakes to take note of when formula feeding to help you with and through the process.
15 Recycling Milk
Never recycle formula. When it comes to milk and newborns, forget about any recycling efforts. And you may want to forget about being environmental-friendly. The focus at hand, and the most important issue, is your baby’s health.
Milk that sits over a period of time after it has been heated or used can cause stomach and intestinal discomfort and issues. Also, bacteria from your baby’s mouth enters the milk and this bacteria sits and settles in the milk which can be harmful to your baby. This is why it’s important to avoid making too much formula.
Don’t overdo it and end up with leftover milk. Prepare the right amount the first time so you won’t waste formula and money. If you do have milk left over, make sure it doesn’t sit long before it’s used again. In other words, you can reuse it only if it’s in the same feeding setting, but not hours later.
14 Improperly Heating The Bottle
It's very important to be aware of properly heating your baby’s milk in the microwave. Yes, the microwave is quicker for busy parents but your baby’s nutrition is most important. Overheating in the microwave removes nutrients in your baby’s formula.
Sometimes parents will let it overheat because they don’t plan to feed the baby right away and this allows the milk to stay warm enough when it is time to feed baby, but this thinking is erroneous. If you overheat the milk it ruins the nutrients in the milk and can create hot spots in the milk that can burn your baby’s mouth, which is already very sensitive.
Only heat the milk when you are ready to feed the baby. If you're heading out the door and need to keep the milk warm, purchase a bottle warmer or some device that will keep the milk warm. The best way to heat the bottle is on the stove.
13 Force Feeding
Switching from breast milk to formula or starting your baby off with formula milk will definitely pose a challenge. Babies just prefer breast milk over formula. But for whatever legitimate reason you have for choosing formula over breast milk there is one important thing to remember, don’t force your baby to drink the formula if they shy away from it at first.
It will take some time, and no, they won't starve in the meantime. But forcing them will only mean cleaning up when they spit it back up. If you are switching them off of breast milk, try starting off with mixing the breast milk with the formula this will help them get use to the taste.
If you are starting them off with formula, try giving it to them in smaller portions. Instead of using a full-sized bottle start off with the mini-bottles. That way you don’t waste formula too.
12 Not Making Enough Formula
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes most parents make - new and experienced. How many times have you been faced with a situation of running out of milk, especially while you are out, because the baby drank more than you expected. This is one of the reasons why some mothers choose to breastfeed.
They may prefer to have the milk pumped first and ready to feed the baby with a bottle, but there is no running out of milk per se. Never assume your baby will drink a certain amount or that you don’t expect to be out long enough for your child to get hungry again.
Simply take the time to make an extra bottle of formula every day. It’s always better to have more than enough than not enough. And one thing to remember is that babies can be fickle so their desire to feed can change depending on a number of circumstances.
11 Making Too Much Formula
Of course, this is the opposite of not making enough formula. Although it is a smart idea to always make an extra bottle, don’t overdo it. Don’t pile up pre-made bottles when you know your baby won’t drink it all. As parents, and as human beings in general, we tend to go to the extremes. Balance is the key.
The first couple of months of your newborn’s life can be challenging when it comes to feeding patterns so it can be easy to have too much milk or not enough. Find a happy medium by paying close attention to your baby’s eating habits. Try arranging your outing time around their schedule.
If they tend to drink more in the morning, schedule your outings in the afternoon or right after you have feed them. If they tend to feed heavier in the afternoon, try splitting your outing time in the morning and in the evening.
10 Not Mixing The Formula Properly
One of the biggest mistakes most new parents make is not mixing the formula properly. This is one of the reasons why many mothers choose to breastfeed, no need for mixing ingredients.
There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby formula milk it just requires a little more effort and time. The most important to remember is to make sure you follow the instructions and use the proper amount of formula and water. This is very important because it affects the amount of nutrients your baby gets, which is essential to your baby’s growth.
The formula should come with its own scoop which helps you measure the right amount. Make sure the scoop is levelled and unpacked. Don’t overdo it or under do it, your baby’s nutrition is at stake, and they can’t tell you when they’re feeling out of sorts because they’re not receiving the right amount of nutrition.
9 Forcing The Baby To Finish The Bottle
This one is somewhat similar to the previous tip, but there is a difference. Your baby is actually drinking their milk, but not finishing it. That's okay. You don’t have to force them to drink it all. That’s why it’s important to not make too much formula.
Find the right amount your baby is willing to drink. Even if the doctor says they should be drinking a certain amount, each baby is different and knows how much they want to drink. Forcing them to drink more only ends up in a mess when they spit it up or can cause stomach and gastric issues.
If they don’t finish drinking all the bottle, store it in a cool place. Do not leave it out in room temperature for later use. It’s milk. It will spoil. But also keep in mind that formula period will not be good very long even if you place it back in the refrigerator.
8 Not Choosing The Right Formula
This too, is a huge mistake and problem most new parents, and even some experienced parents have with formula. It’s not always the parents fault though. Again, babies are naturally inclined to prefer breast milk, so it will take the baby some getting use to formula milk. It’s foreign to them, and a foreign taste for them.
Many will spit out the formula milk or just outright refuse to drink it. It can take some time and feel like an obstacle hurdle to figure out what formula works best for the baby. If you are completely at a loss, contact your pediatrician for tips. They can provide different samples of formulas for you to try to see which one will work.
Sometimes your baby may be allergic to the formula or it may make them sick, if this happens try organic milk. Some mothers swear by cow’s milk but be aware that this type of milk has less nutrients in it.
7 Using Plain Water
Just like the bottle, nipple and feeding supplies need to be sterilized or boiled to keep them clean. Water should be boiled, or you can use filtered water. Only use tap water if you have a filter in place. We have all heard of problems with tap water recently.
To avoid your baby getting sick or having some germs or bacteria build up in their system that can cause serious problems later on in their life, and to give you peace of mind, boil the water in a large pan for about 15 minutes, let it cool to room temperature, and then mix in the formula.
If you're using sterile or distilled drinking water, be sure it is actually distilled, let it remain at room temperature, and then mix in the formula. If you're not sure about the bottled distilled water, you can always boil it to remove any impurities that may be lurking in it.
6 Forcing The Baby To Burp
First, make sure your baby burps after each feeding. This goes for formula feeding as well as breast feeding. Babies take in a lot of air when they drink by sucking air or taking gaps. Trapped air results in gas which results in uncomfortable sleeping and an unhappy baby. Try to get the baby to burp at least two to three times, and make sure they are good burps.
It may help to burp them in between feedings instead of waiting until they are finished. Don’t rush the baby, even if it's 3am and you would give anything to go back to sleep. Babies will often burp or pass gas while asleep so don’t worry if they fall asleep.
Secondly, don’t force them to burp. Babies will burp when it’s time. Again, you can’t rush through these things. They will happen naturally. Try several different positions to get your little one to burp.
5 Ensuring The Milk Is Flowing
One problem that is evident for both breastfeeding and formula feeding, is producing a continuous milk flow. Babies cannot verbal communicate with us that the milk is no longer flowing or flowing properly. So what happens is they get a mouthful of air which causes gas to build up in their gastrointestinal system.
To make sure milk is flowing properly avoid using a wide-holed nipple which causes the milk to flow even when the baby is not sucking which can cause serious problems, including choking. Try to find a nipple that replicates the breast nipple.
When breastfeeding, milk is only produced when the baby sucks. Make sure the bottle tip is in a position so the milk flows only when they suck. As your baby grows and drinks more and is able to maneuver the bottle away from their mouth when they’re not drinking, you will need to adjust the nipple or purchase wider nipples.
4 Not Sterilizing The Bottles
This is another very important step new parents need to remember when feeding formula milk to the baby. This directly affects the formula when bottles, nipples and other feeding supplies are not sterilized. Having a newborn definitely shortens your time and keeps your life busy, but never rush when it comes to taking care of your infant, and that includes keeping items clean.
Before using any bottle, nipples or other feeding supplies, be sure to sterilize them and then wash them in soapy, hot water thoroughly. Repeat this step after each feeding. One easy way to sterilize items is by boiling them.
This may seem archaic to us modern, contemporary folks living in a fast-paced society, but this is one of the easiest and surest ways to prevent bacteria and fungi from growing on your supplies and keeping your baby healthy. Afterward, place each item in a sterile-free environment free from dust, debris and areas that may be used often.
3 Choosing The Wrong Bottle
When choosing to give your baby formula instead of breastfeeding them, it will be just as important to decide on the right type of bottle. New moms can often get caught up with buying the most fancy, most expensive or best looking items, including bottles for their new baby. But this is not always the wisest decision.
Glass bottles can be used, but it's more likely to break or chip. And they should be avoided completely once the baby can hold the bottle. Make sure plastic bottles don’t contain any type of material that carries toxic chemicals.
Stainless steel is good for keeping milk warm or cool. Another mistake parents make when choosing bottles is the size. Newborns don’t need a full-sized bottle to start off with, the smaller size bottles will work perfectly. Colored bottles are fine, but it can be hard to see through the bottle if necessary.
2 Switching Formulas
Too often new parents try to make the formula work because they have become use to it, but it doesn’t work for baby and that’s the most important thing to remember. Don’t stay with the same formula if your baby is having gastrointestinal issues (they will have excess gas, spit up a lot or not feel well) or if they are showing signs of an allergic reaction to the milk.
And when you do change, make sure you take it slow and easy with the changes so your baby can adapt to the new taste. If you have to change formulas, this can also be a challenging time for both you and baby.
Babies are just like most of us - creatures of habit that don’t care for changes and don’t adapt well to them. Unless the baby is having difficulty with the present formula, there is really no need to change formulas.
1 Allowing The Baby To Feed Themselves
Unlike breastfeeding when the baby doesn’t have to hold onto a bottle, feeding formula to a baby requires a bottle. The mistake many new mothers make is allowing the baby to hold the bottle before they are old enough to or allowing the baby to go to sleep with the bottle.
The biggest problem this poses is the positioning of the bottle and the milk flow. Both are essential to proper feeding. If the baby is not old enough to properly hold the bottle, this can result in choking or excess gas getting in their stomach causing gas or in their lungs or airways which can cause persistent coughing.
Also, allowing your baby to fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth can cause dental or gum issues. If the milk runs out of the bottle while the baby is lying down, this can cause ear infections. Make sure the bottle is held properly by someone else.