When it comes to babies, breastfeeding is best and provides the ideal balanced diet and nutrients a baby needs. Infant formula is intended to replace breast-milk when mothers do not breastfeed, when mothers cannot breastfeed or when weaning a baby under 12 months old.
When you first decide to formula feed your baby it can be a whole new world trying to understand all the terms and equipment required for formula feeding, hopefully this will help in answering some of the questions that come along when parents start the road to formula feeding.
It can be a minefield choosing a formula when standing in front of the shelves in the supermarket. The Australian Infant Feeding Guidelines NHMRC Feb 2013 suggests that "babies use cow’s milk-based formulas until 12 months of age (note: all infant formulas available in Australia are iron-fortified). Use special formulas only for infants who cannot take cow’s milk-based products or because of specific medical, cultural or religious reasons (note: neither soy nor goat milk-based formulas are suitable alternatives for infants with allergies to cow’s milk-based formulas and are not recommended)."
As for which is the safest choice people tend to be worried which formula to buy and try to go off price. It is good to note that all "Infant formula products sold and/or produced in Australia and New Zealand are regulated under Standard 2.9.1 ‘Infant Formula Products’, of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Food Standards Code)" (Infant Formulas Products RIS), meaning all formulas for sale in Australia are safe and meet the standards required by the Food Standards Code. So try not to feel guilty if you decide to buy the cheapest on the shelve.
What Bottles and Teats Do I Need?
When it comes to choosing bottles and teats, the choice is as large as choosing which formula to use. Hopefully this will help in sorting out what is what.
- With bottles the first choice you need to make is, plastic, BPA free or glass. Then you need to choose what size do you buy, do you buy wide necks or narrow, small or big - every turn there is a choice needing to be made.
BPA free plastic bottles can be more expensive than normal plastic. What is BPA? BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a organic compound used in making plastics. There has been much research done into BPA which some studies finding negative outcomes in health for children and babies. Due to this research, BPA in infant bottles has been banned in Canada, US and European Union. The Australian government feels if guidelines of use are followed then bottles with BPA is safe for babies and children to use. The choice is then left to parents to decide if they would like to use BPA free plastic bottles.
Glass bottles are a good way to go if your wanting not to risk BPA even by buying BPA free plastic bottles. Glass bottles are also useful for keeping for future children as they will last much longer than plastic. The downside to glass bottles is breakage if dropped or chipping when cleaning.
As for what size to buy, if you're on a budget then stick with just large bottles as you can use that from newborn to over 12 months easily. You can buy small bottles but you will find after your baby reaches past 3 months they will be drinking more than the bottle can hold in one sitting meaning a upgrade to large bottles anyway.
There then is the choice of wide necks or narrow necks. Really this choice will come down to which teats you buy and if you use a breast pump and its size attachment to bottles. There is no difference to your baby if you use either. If you have a breast pump it would useful to see what size neck fits it and buy bottles to fit your pump.
- As for choosing teats the range is huge. Once you have chosen your bottles this will narrow your choice due to having the wide or narrow neck. I suggest starting with a simple standard teat and seeing how your baby takes to the new teat. If you find your infant then has issues such as reflux, colic or won't take to the standard teat then you can change over and try a different teat. Do remember to change to new teats every 3 months or if showing wear before this time as the plastic does start to break down with use and can be a choking hazard and harbour germs in cracks.
How To Prepare Formula
"Always wash hands before preparing formula and ensure that formula is prepared in a clean area
• Wash bottles, teats, caps and knives – careful attention to washing is essential – and sterilise by boiling for 5 minutes or using an approved sterilising agent.
• Boil fresh water and allow it to cool until lukewarm – to cool to a safe temperature, allow the water to sit for at least 30 minutes (in places with clean water supply which meets Australian standards, hot water urns such as hydroboils are safe to use for formula reconstitution, provided the supply of very hot water has not been depleted)
• Ideally prepare only one bottle of formula at a time, just before feeding
• Always read the instructions to check the correct amount of water and powder as shown on the feeding table on the back of the pack – this may vary between different formulas
• Add water to the bottle first, then powder
• Pour the correct amount of previously boiled (now cooled) water into a sterilised bottle
• Always measure the amount of powder using the scoop provided in the can, as scoop sizes vary between different formulas
• Fill the measuring scoop with formula powder and level off using the levelling device provided or the back of a sterilised knife – the scoop should be lightly tapped to remove any air bubbles
• Take care to add the correct number of scoops to the water in the bottle – do not add half scoops or more scoops than stated in the instructions
• Keep the scoop in the can when not in use – do not wash the scoop as this can introduce moisture into the tin if not dried adequately
• Place the teat and cap on the bottle and shake it until the powder dissolves
• Test the temperature of the milk with a few drops on the inside of your wrist – it should feel just warm, but cool is better than too hot
• Feed infant – any formula left at the end of the feed must be discarded
• A feed should take no longer than 1 hour – any formula that has been at room temperature for longer than 1 hour should be discarded
• Formula that has been at room temperature for less than 1 hour may be stored in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours (in a sterile container) – discard any refrigerated feed that has not been used within 24 hours
• When a container of formula is finished, throw away the scoop with the container, to ensure that the correct scoop is used next time"
NHMRC Infant Feeding Guidelines
When To Feed
This depends on what type of routine you are following for your parenting. Just like breastfeeding you can bottle feed on demand and feed when your baby is hungry. You can also decide to stick to a routine and following some guides such as every 3 hours. Again this is up to you as a parent and which style you feel conformable with.
Do remember it is a myth that by feeding formula a baby they will sleep through the night - so please don't think this is true and decide to change your baby to infant formula on just this reason. Also do not be worried if your baby is not sleeping through the night while on formula.
Problems with Formula
When starting formula or changing from one brand to another it can take up to 3 weeks for your infants stomach to get use to the new mixture. During this time your baby may seem unsettled or have more wind than before. If your baby is upset or seems to be in pain please seek medical attention.
If you feel your baby has a lactose issue or is unable to take cow's milk based formula please see your doctor to have your baby checked for any issues and if found to have a issue may put placed onto speciality formula.
Some babies may become constipated on infant formula. If this happens to seek medical attention to make sure there are no underlining issues, if all is fine then it might a good idea to change formulas as that formula may not the right one for your little one.
I hope this guide to formula feeding your infant has been helpful and if you have more questions to ask please feel free to start a new thread in 'Feeding Your Baby'
as we have many members who can help and answer any questions you have.
Written by Shellby with information from Australian Infant Feeding Guidelines of 2013 from the National Health and Medical Research Council.