It’s the age-old debate: Does a new mom breastfeed her baby or formula feed? The truth is that as long as the baby’s tummy is full, that’s really all that matters. However, how one goes about making sure the baby’s tummy is full is something that does indeed require a lot of thought. While formula feeding may seem like it’s pretty much the same thing as breastfeeding, that’s actually not the case. Moreover, there are certain things to consider before jumping straight into formula feeding.
From the nutritional aspect of it, to the amount of preparation and equipment that’s required for it, to how expensive things can really get, there are certain things that moms who have gone through the entire process of formula feeding their baby wish someone would have told them in the first place. And since nobody likes a Monday morning quarterback, we’ve decided to compile a list to help new moms learn all about formula feeding beforehand. There may be a few surprises in here so be sure to make it all the way to the end. So without much further ado, here are 20 things mom wished someone had told her before she decided to formula feed.
20 The Nutritional Aspect
When it comes to formula feeding vs breastfeeding, there is one area of debate that seems to get the most attention. Some would argue that breastfeeding is better and more nutritional than formula feeding. And the fact of the matter is, that is actually correct. There are very specific and unique proteins, vitamins, and antibodies that can’t be duplicated in formula. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say that formula isn’t nutritional, it’s just that it can never be the same as what our bodies are able to produce naturally. That’s the miracle of life right there for you.
19 There Are Too Many Choices
Decisions, decisions, decisions… If you’re like me, and you get a little like, whoa, by having too many choices for something, then choosing the right type of formula may be a bit of an issue. Just like there are many different types of milk (I’m looking at you almond, soy, rice, goat, acidophilus, and milk of magnesia), there are many different types of formula. More importantly, it’s important to find a formula that suits your baby’s needs. Different formulas can treat gas, allergies, spitting up, etc… However, if your baby is allergic to milk, you have to find alternative formulas. It’s best to consult with a doctor to recommend the best type for your little one.
18 Watch Out For BPA
BPA has been under much scrutiny as of recent. And for good reason. For those who may not know what it is, BPA is a chemical that is used in certain plastics, such as bottles. Moreover, exposure to such BPA has been linked to some pretty significant health consequences. Now, even though BPA was officially banned by the FDA in baby bottles back in 2008, we’re still not out of the woods yet. Just because BPA was banned in baby bottles, doesn’t mean that it can’t still lurk somewhere else. In fact, manly linings of cans of formula can still contain them. It’s best to avoid BPA altogether.
17 Preparation Is Key
Let’s just get one thing straight here. If you are looking at giving your baby formula because it’s something that you can do quickly, I’m afraid I have some not so good news for you. When it comes to formula, it’s all about preparation. And the preparation for it can take up a lot of time. In order to prepare formula, you have to take into account the sterilization, the mixing, and last but certainly not least, the warming up of it. Also, it’s very important to follow the directions carefully. Now isn’t the time to start skipping any steps.
16 Allergies Are A Thing
When it comes to formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, you have to take into account the possibility of allergies for formula feeding. Since 2 to 8% of babies can develop allergies to cow’s milk, it might be necessary to use a cow’s milk formula alternative, such as a soy-based formula. However, about 1% of babies are allergic to soy, which means you now have to find another formula alternative. Moreover, it’s hard to tell when your baby does have such an allergy because oftentimes, the symptoms of such an allergy can be seen in many other conditions. It’s important to have your doctor monitor any symptoms that your child is exhibiting.
15 Warm Vs. Cold
Whenever you think of formula, you probably think of that formula being warm, right? I mean after all, when you serve your baby formula in a bottle, you have to warm it up first. So what’s the issue? Well, just when you thought that formula had to only be warm, think again. It turns out that you can actually serve formula warmed or cold. However, the problem here is that some babies have a preference. There are some babies who are unable to digest formula when it’s cold and there are some who can’t digest warm. And please, if you are going to serve it warm, do not microwave it. Microwaving formula can cause spots to be too warm.
14 The Right Feeding Angle
Now that you have managed to decide on which type of formula you want to use, and have made sure there was no BPA in it, and have decided on whether to serve it warm or cold, now comes the part where you have to find the right feeding angle. It’s important to cradle the baby and to maintain eye contact because it's important to bond with them during this time. Moreover, you’re going to want to try to simulate the same type of contact that you would experience with them as you would breastfeeding. Keep their head elevated and make sure to never lay the baby down with their bottle propped up because this can cause danger.
If you decide to formula feed your baby, you are inevitably going to find yourself in a scenario where you are questioning whether or not it is ok to give your baby any leftover formula. Considering that formula can get pretty expensive (we’ll touch on that later), it’s normal to question whether or not you can feed your baby whatever is left over. I mean, if you can do it with meatloaf, why not formula? Unfortunately, it is not ok. Prepared formula only lasts about two hours before it goes bad and any leftover formula will contain bacteria that will only grow. So much for saving.
12 It’s Ok To Supplement
If using only formula isn’t what you want to do, and you want to incorporate a little breastmilk, it’s important to note that it's perfectly acceptable to supplement formula with breastmilk. However, supplementing is not without its own set of issues. When it comes to supplementing, the biggest issue that you’ll face is transitioning your baby from one to the other. Sometimes the issue can be with the bottle, so you may find yourself going through various types of bottles in order to find the one that will allow the baby to transition much more easily.
11 Get Ready For Gas
If you thought your little one had gas before, just wait until they start being formula fed. And not only do babies have more gas from formula, but the gas they get is actually much more painful. The reason for this has to do with using bottles. You see, when you are using a bottle to feed the baby, air gets trapped in the bottle, and then that air gets caught in the baby’s stomach. While there are bottles that are vented to help with such a problem, they can only help to reduce it, but not eliminate it altogether.
10 It’s Pricey
There’s no sense in skirting around this next issue, so let’s just get it out in the open. If you decide to formula feed your baby, it will most likely be the biggest expense you will have. That’s just the way it is. From the actual formula, to the tons and tons of bottles you will be going through, to nipples, formula feeding can be so darn expensive. And there aren’t really that many ways to cut costs with it either. Also, let’s be honest, a baby is already so expensive with diapers, food, clothes, furniture, and medical expenses, just to name a few.
9 It’s Not Always Necessary.
Wait a minute… are you telling me that after all of this, formula isn’t even actually necessary?! Well ladies and gentlemen, it would appear so. For toddlers, which are categorized as children over 12 months, formula is not necessary. While toddler formula may be marketed as the in-between for baby formula and kid food, most toddlers can go straight to regular milk at the 12 month mark. Moreover, you can start to incorporate whole foods (not the grocery store) at the 4 to 6 month mark. Unless your toddler’s doctor recommends it for their particular needs, go for the real stuff.
8 Don’t Break The Rules
You know the old saying “rules were meant to be," well, ignored... well… that doesn’t exactly apply to formula feeding. Formula feeding isn’t like building a shelf from Ikea. You can’t go off book and start guessing as to what should be done next. With formula feeding, the directions exist for good reason. They are meant to be followed precisely. You can’t start guessing or estimating how much water you have to include. Moreover, there isn’t really room for error either. Since sterilization is key, you want to make sure everything is done right to avoid any bacteria from growing and affecting the baby.
7 Better Safe Than Sorry
Safety first. Allow me to repeat that. Safety first. As important as it is to follow the directions exactly as they are written, it’s just as important to make sure that everything is safe before feeding your baby their formula. If it seems like there is a lot more that goes into formula feeding than you previously thought, that’s because there is. It is essential to that you check the temperature of the bottle prior to giving it to them. Try putting a little on the wrist first to see. When you microwave a bottle, the heat is not dispersed properly, and this leads to some parts being much warmer which can be too warm for the baby.
6 Do Research
Schoolwork isn’t just for kids. And when it comes to formula feeding, you’re going to have to put in your fair share of work. And that work comes in the form of research. Lots and lots of research. From the bottles, to the nipples, to all of the sterilization apparatuses, there are so many different types of each to concern yourself with. There are varying price ranges, varying reviews, and sometimes, the one with the highest price isn’t always the better one. That is why it is so important to research each piece of equipment to make sure that it will suit all of you and your baby’s needs.
5 Check Their Bowel Movements
Get ready for the TMI portion of the formula feeding process. That’s right folks, we have officially gotten to the “bowel movement” portion of this article. Babies who are formula fed, more often than not, have bowel movements that are much different than breastfed babies. Moreover, they tend to get constipated quite often. Therefore, it’s important to keep track of their bowel movements and to check for consistency. If the consistency is that of small, dark, little pebbles, this is not a good sign. What you want to see is a paste-like consistency. And if the constipation and bad consistency doesn’t get better, check with your doctor.
4 Buy Plenty Of Equipment
There’s a big difference between pricey and having a lot of something. Unfortunately, formula feeding combines both. Not only is it pricey, but you have to buy tons of equipment for it. It would be one thing if the necessary equipment was cheap, but you still need to make room for all of it. And did I mention that there’s a lot of it? You are going to need to be stocked up on tons of bottles. In fact, in the first couple of months, you are probably going to go through several bottles a day. And now, you’re probably trying to do the math in your head.
3 It’s Going To Take Time To Find What Works
Believe me when I tell you that trying to figure out which formula is the right one for your baby can feel like a daunting task. And to be quite honest, it can be a serious pain in the neck. There are some children whose bodies can handle any brand of formula, and then there are some children with sensitivities or allergies whose stomachs can’t digest it properly. It might even feel like you have gone through every brand of formula there is. There is no doubt it may seem pretty stressful and overwhelming, but unfortunately, it’s going to be a time-consuming process.
2 You Might Be Judged Over It
Much like everything else in life, formula feeding comes with a dark side. And the dark side to formula feeding is that there will inevitably be people who will judge you for doing it. Whether it’s from people on the street, to doctors, to family and friends, there are countless stories from people who have been judged for formula feeding their babies. People tend to look at these moms as having given up or are neglecting their children’s needs. Moreover, it seems that formula feeding moms are somehow expected to justify their decisions. Just be ready for some snooty looks tossed your way.
1 Bonding Issues
A big reason why moms choose to breastfeed over feeding their baby formula has to due to with the bonding that comes along with it. While there may not be that much of disparity between breastfeeding and formula feeding in terms of the amount of bonding that takes place, the extra skin on skin contact does indeed allow for a greater overall emotional bond between mother and child. Not to mention that the overall experience is much different. When you breastfeed, your child’s nourishment becomes an extension of yourself. You are their source of nutrition. That’s really the main difference here.