Even though the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until at least 6 months of age, nowadays a lot of new moms choose baby formula instead. This decision is commonly judged by society, but, in fact, there is nothing wrong about it.
Formula feeding is basically as good as breastfeeding. In certain circumstances, it's even better. Although a lot of concerns were raised over formula's safety and nutritional value, these days, these kinds of worries can be eliminated. Infant formula has become much safer, and it provides infants with all the nutrients they need. Chemicals have stopped being used for making bottles, and most (if not all) of the harmful ingredients have been eliminated.
Recently, we witnessed the rise of a movement called "Fed is Best," the basis of which being the fact that as long as the baby's fed and their nutritional requirements are met, it doesn't matter whether the mother is breastfeeding or formula feeding. Among other things, this movement also increases formula feeding awareness among moms, who may prefer this method but worry about social disapproval.
Now let's take a look at the things that we need to know about successful formula feeding to understand this essential point. It's important that we feed our babies. The method of feeding we choose is of lesser importance.
20 Bottle Shaming Is A Thing
Although a lot of moms choose formula feeding these days, there are still people who think that it's the wrong choice and never hesitate to express their opinion. Therefore, if you decide to use formula, you should be ready stand up for yourself.
Jackie B., a mom from Saint Paul, Minnesota, shares her bottle shaming experience on Cafe Mom: "I feel like she [my doctor] could have prepped me for how to deal with pushy lactation consultants and judgy nurses at the hospital. Like, is there some code words that make the bottle shaming stop?"
Even if you can't avoid bottle shaming, you're able to stop paying attention to the people who can't keep their concerns to themselves.
19 But It Doesn't Equal A Failure
If a woman feeds her baby with formula, it doesn't mean that she's a failed mom. Sometimes, it's not just a choice of what a woman likes or doesn't like. There are women who aren't physically able to breastfeed their babies. There are those who can't do it due to a certain illness. And there are also those who choose formula because breastfeeding doesn't seem to be a viable option for their family.
Whatever the reason, a formula-feeding mom should never allow others to judge her without knowing her personal family situation. Don't let them think that you're a failed mom. You're a great parent, as long as you do what you think is best for your child.
18 Being A Clean Freak Is Actually Important
Feeding your baby with formula is the high time to give in to your germaphobe tendencies. After all, the place where you prepare formula, the containers and the scoops you use, as well as your own hands can never be too clean.
According to Everyday Family, experts recommend to "sterilize all bottles and nipples at least once before usage." Afterward, you should make sure that you wash all parts thoroughly. For that, completely disassemble the bottles and wash each and every component with warm water and soap. Another tip is to fully assemble the bottles to store them because in this case grime, dust, etc, won't get inside.
17 ... But It's So Darn Hard...
None of us lives in a perfect household and we all have our issues sometimes. For this reason, it's hard to ideally follow all the recommendations related to formula preparing and feeding. Nevertheless, we need to do our best to keep our kids healthy and happy.
For example, if you can't prepare fresh formula every time, make enough for a day and keep it in the back the fridge, where the cool temperatures are most steady. Don't use it after 24 hours and don't reuse the formula your baby didn't finish in a feeding session. Also, remember that formula can't be left out of the fridge for over an hour.
To avoid confusing yourself, mark all prepared formula with dates.
16 Whatever Combination Works
Those moms who want (and can) do it, make a different kind of choice. They breastfeed and formula feed their baby. And it's totally fine to do it, if you keep certain limitations in mind. Most importantly, you can't formula feed your baby for a whole week and then expect your girls to be full, if you suddenly want to breastfeed. If you want to alternate both feeding methods, do it more regularly.
Other than that, whatever combination works for you and your baby, works. Just go for it and take the best out of both worlds. If you need any help with elaborating a proper feeding schedule, find a good lactation consultant.
15 Formula Means Everyone Can Feed A Baby!
There's one huge benefit of formula no one can ever argue with. It's the fact that it lets the mom break free from being the only caretaker and ask someone else to feed her baby.
Literally, anyone else can feed the baby with formula. It can be the little one's grandma or grandpa, aunt or uncle, or even their elder brother or sister! And if you delegate this responsibility to the baby's dad, everyone in the family will be more than happy. Believe me, seeing your partner feed your baby with this proud look on his face will be one of the best moments ever and it'll probably make you love him even more (if that's possible).
14 Finding The Right Formula Can Be A Challenge
However easy it seems to be, it's actually kinda hard to find the right formula for your little bundle of joy. The thing is, some babies can take any mixture of any brand and be happy with it, while others might have sensitivities or be unable to tolerate some of the specific types.
A mom shares on Romper, "My first son was able to tolerate basically everything we tried, but my second was a different story. It felt like we tried everything before we finally settled on something that was suitable, which ended up being a mild formula for sensitive stomachs."
But here's the good news for you. Options are numerous these days, so eventually you're bound to find the formula your baby will like!
13 Everything We Need To Know About Warming The Formula
First of all, you don't even have to heat your formula, if it is at room temperature. Just try feeding it to your baby and see how they react. If they're okay with it, just skip this step. Room temperature formula has all the same nutrients as the heated one, so it's just a matter of your child's taste.
If your kid doesn't like it and you have to warm your formula, never use a microwave oven, however enticing it sounds. The thing is, microwave oven doesn't heat evenly, so your baby might end up eating the formula that's still cold in some parts and way too warm in others. Instead, keep a bottle in warm water for some time or get a bottle warmer that'll make the whole process a lot easier.
12 Formula-Fed Babies Have Different Bowel Movements
Babies who eat formula usually have a different color and consistency of bowel movements compared to those kids who are breastfed. Their stools are usually darker and firmer. It's also normal for a baby to become constipated for a short period of time in case you transition from breastfeeding to formula feeding. This issue can be easily resolved and it commonly doesn't last long.
In fact, according to some experts, your baby's gut health can benefit from formula because it has the important gut bacteria that make it work as a pre- and probiotic.
See, scientists don't just sit still – they keep on working to make formula a perfect food for your child!
11 Formula Isn't Cheap
Do you think that formula feeding isn't really expensive, because babies are small and they don't eat a lot? Well, let me disappoint you. Even if the price of one container doesn't seem to be a big deal, you'll probably need to buy a huge number of them. You see, although your newborn's appetite isn't too big in the beginning, as your baby grows it'll get bigger and bigger. And bigger. You see the point.
The actual amount of containers you'll need depends on your baby. In some cases, you'll have to buy one per month at first and then it'll grow to one container a week. Sometimes, it can be more. So it's actually hard to predict how much you'll have to spend on formula. We can only tell that it's going to be... a lot.
10 But Homemade Formula Is Not A Way Out
If you got scared of the price of formula feeding, you might've started thinking of the ways to make it on your own. In fact, some moms decide to make homemade formula, although it's not always the best option.
According to TheBoobGeek, using homemade formula can be unsafe for the baby, especially if they're under 6 months of age, and there're a few reasons for it. Firstly, some homemade formula recipes contain raw milk, which isn't recommended for babies. Secondly, you can't regulate the amount of nutrients in a homemade product. And thirdly, it can actually turn out to be more expensive and it'll also take up too much of your precious time.
9 Pay Attention To The Contents
Before choosing a specific kind of formula, take your time to carefully examine the ingredients. You might be surprised to learn that a lot of formula offered in the supermarkets have too much sugar or high fructose corn syrup that might have a negative effect on your kid.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., medical advisory board member for the Nutritional Magnesium Association, says on She Knows, "Many commercial baby formulas use high fructose corn syrup, instilling a sweet tooth in babies before they cut their first teeth."
So if you don't want your kid to eat all the cakes in the house in the future, choose the formula that has a minimum amount of this ingredient.
8 Formula-Fed Babies Sleep More
There's an old wives' tale saying that if you supplement breastfeeding with formula, your baby will become less fussy and will finally sleep through the night. It might seem to be incredible, but recently scientists actually found a confirmation to this old opinion.
In 2012, researchers from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge studied 300 babies who were 3 months of age. In the end of the study, they found that "formula-fed babies cried less and were easier to put to sleep" than those who were breastfed or mixed-fed.
Isn't it the reason for new moms to consider formula feeding? I mean, who doesn't like sleeping through the night?
7 Infant Formula Isn't Sterile
If you think that baby formula is sterile, you're wrong. According to WHO, "It may contain bacteria that can cause serious illness in infants. By preparing and storing powdered infant formula correctly, you can reduce the risk of illness."
How to do it correctly? First of all, to get rid of the bacteria in the powder, you'll need water heated to a minimum of 70 degrees C (158-degrees F). Secondly, it shouldn't be the water coming straight from the tap. Instead, take cold water and heat it in a kettle. And thirdly, always follow the instructions and never use less or more than the amount recommended on the package (unless your doctor instructed you otherwise).
6 It Can Stay On The Teeth
Do you have a habit to brush your teeth after a hearty dinner? You probably do, so you should also have a habit to wipe your baby's mouth after a feeding session. Dr. Greg Cumberford, a dentist who offer free dental healthcare for kids in a mobile bus dental program, says that moms shouldn't let sugar from the formula stay on their babies' gums for too long.
Dr. Cumberford states, "What I recommend to parents is wipe the baby's teeth and gums clean with a soft wet washcloth, begin brushing your child's teeth with children's toothpaste when his or her teeth come in, floss the teeth and have regular dental checkups — the first checkup should be at 1-year-old."
Yes, this is how early dental hygiene should begin.
5 Always Feed With Respect
Feeding your baby with respect doesn't have anything to do with the method of feeding you've chosen. At the same time, it has everything to do with how you feed your little one.
The most important thing here is to always watch your baby's cues. This way, you'll know that they're getting enough food, but aren't overfed. Never force your little one to finish a bottle, no matter how hard you tried to perfectly prepare the formula and no matter how expensive it was. Hold your baby tenderly during the feeding session and ensure the eye contact with them. This way, you'll contribute to creating the bond between you two and fall in love with this bundle of joy even more.
4 Keep The Dos And Don'ts In Mind
There're certain dos and don'ts that you should remember if you use formula to feed your baby:
- Do keep prepared formula in the fridge
- Don't hesitate to throw away expired formula
- Do use ready-to-feed formula when traveling
- Don't add anything to formula, unless it's advised by your doctor
- Do make sure that anyone in your family who participates in feeding your little one knows exactly how to prepare, store, and offer it to the baby
If you keep these things in mind, you can make formula feeding an amazing experience both for you and your baby, as well as for your entire family!
3 Sometimes Formula Is Better For Kids
Despite all the arguments against baby formula, in some cases, it actually works better for kids than breastfeeding. For example, some babies have trouble gaining weight, while others can't tolerate their mother's milk. For these kids, formula is a perfect alternative and a way out of a problem.
Formula usually helps the baby gain weight quite quickly and, since there's a huge choice of them in the store, you can certainly find the kind your little one will tolerate well. Besides, formula feeding will help you better regulate how much your baby is eating per each session and see if this amount is good for them or not.
2 Formula Feeding Has A Long History
Many people think that bottle feeding is a new trend. However, the concept of substituting breast milk with some kind of "artificial feeding" can actually be traced back to ancient times! Different alternative methods of feeding have been found in historical texts coming from the Roman era and Renaissance times. According to She Knows, "terra-cotta pots with spouts were used to feed babies" long before bottles were invented. In the 16th century, a popular feeding method included the use of a pap boat. It was a device that resembled a hollow spoon commonly used to feed bread soaked in water or milk to babies.
In the times of the Industrial Revolution, bottle feeding became a socially accepted norm and even in the middle of the 20th century, it was really popular among new moms.
1 Every Woman Has A Choice
After all, to breastfeed or to formula feed is a personal choice of every woman. This choice needs to be based on what works for your family, not on what the society considers "best," "normal," or "right."
Again, remember one simple thing. The quality of your parenting doesn't depend on what others are thinking about you. It depends on what you're doing for your little one and for your whole family. In other words, if your baby is fed, if they get all the nutrients they need, if they're developing properly, and if they're happy, you're a great mom. Don't take others too seriously, and let them make their choices, as well.