11 Common Questions and Concerns About Formula Feeding

by | Oct 19, 2019

There is often a big debate on which feeding choice is the best for your baby: breastmilk or formula. Most women struggle with this decision, but ultimately, as long as your baby is getting fed, you are doing a great job!

There are always going to be pros and cons to each and every family’s situation makes their decision unique and appropriate for them. If you decide to formula feed, you are providing your baby with the recommended amount of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to sustain a healthy balanced diet for positive growth and development.

As a first time mom, you may not have a full understanding of the ins-and-outs of formula feeding. I have compiled a list of common questions and concerns that many parents have asked about formula feeding.

Many moms have questions & concerns about feeding formula in a bottle to their baby. Here are some common thoughts new moms have about formula with infants.

1. What is actually in infant formula?

Infant formula is specially designed to mimic the properties of breastmilk because that is nature’s food for a young baby. Formula companies have broken down breastmilk and discovered the components that make it perfect to enrich your baby’s health.

Infant formula is mostly made of ingredients including cow’s milk and plant-based oils. It contains high levels of carbohydrates and fats, as well as a small portion of protein.

Carbohydrates and fats provide energy for the brain. Proteins provide the necessary building blocks for a baby’s growth and development. There are also a bunch of nutrients mixed in there that have been mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that your baby grows well.

2. I have no choice but to give formula because my breastmilk supply is low, but I feel so guilty.

Breastfeeding is great if it works for you and your family. As a mother, your health and well-being is vital to your baby.

If the demands of breastfeeding are to hard for you to maintain or if it has a negative impact on your quality of life, it’s not worth it. Sure, it’s great to try breastfeeding and to see if it works for you, but don’t stress about giving formula.

The best thing to do is to keep your baby fed, healthy, and happy.

3. Is it not as healthy for my baby?

Formula is not unhealthy for your baby, however there can be some drawbacks that formula doesn’t offer compared to breastmilk.

KidsHealth.Org states that there is are no antibodies in formula which is something that a mother’s breastmilk provides. Therefore, formula can’t provide your baby with the same protection to fight infections that breastmilk does. Some formulas now contain specific ingredients that try to help build immunity.

Manufactured formulas also can never match the same complexity that breastmilk has in regards to the nutritional value it provides. Breastfed babies do have a slightly lower risk of gastrointestinal, ear, and respiratory, infections.

It’s also easy for your baby to overeat with formula in bottles, as it’s easier for them to suck from it. Therefore, formula has been shown to have a correlation with obesity.

4. Do I need to buy organic? It’s so expensive, but I am I not giving my baby the best?

If you can afford it, go for it. However, all formulas still have to meet the same FDA standards.

For a product to be labeled as organic, only a small percentage of ingredients have to be organic. That means that there could still be a lot of non-organic ingredients in that formula. Calorie counts and ingredients will be very similar.

5. How do I know if my baby needs a sensitive, gentle, or non-dairy formula?

The sensitive formulas just have the milk protein broken down a bit in order to be gentler on babies stomach, if they have digestion issues. Non-dairy or soy formula can be used for infants who have dairy or milk protein allergies.

You typically want to start out with regular formula, until you suspect an issue. If your baby is reacting strangely to it, then try the sensitive. You may notice symptoms like increased gas, skin rash, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Consult your physician to see if this could be a response to formula.

My son had a severe response to regular formula (vomitting very often after every bottle), so we had to try something else. We discovered that he had a milk protein allergy because he didn’t have this reaction to non-dairy formula (Enfamil Nutramigen) and that worked best for us.

Make sure you switch to the new formula for at least a week or two to really see any changes.

Related Post: Symptoms and Managing Milk Protein Allergy in Your Infant

6. Do I need to warm formula?

Many moms have questions & concerns about feeding formula in a bottle to their baby. Here are some common thoughts new moms have about formula with infants.

There is nothing wrong with cold formula or milk, but just a personal preference for most babies. Heating a bottle is absolutely not necessary, however it makes it more enjoyable and easier to drink for your baby.

If you never started heating your baby’s bottle and they are exclusively bottle fed, they may not notice a difference. However, if you started off heating or also breastfeed, your baby is used to warm milk and may refuse the cold milk.

If you choose to warm the formula for your baby, I highly recommend Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer. It heats it lightening fast so you don’t have to listen to a screaming baby when they want their milk!

7. Can I use tap water for mixing formula?

The CDC actually recommends boiling water and letting it cool before mixing it with formula. However, using filtered water is a good option too. If you need to use tap water, just make sure that your community water source does not have a lead problem.

8. How many ounces and bottles am I supposed to give?

Luckily for formula-feeding moms, this can be much easier than breastfeeding. It’s easy to tell how much formula your baby is drinking out of a bottle. This can easily help you to determine how much to pour for them at each feeding.

A newborn baby’s stomach is only the size of a pea during their first couple days of life. Therefore, they don’t need a ton of formula at each feeding right away. However, as they grow, their stomach becomes more elastic and can stretch out more as they start taking in more milk.

The rule of thumb is, around 1 month old, they should take 3-4 ounces per feeding, every three hours. Around 2 months, they can take 4-6 ounces every 3 hours.

9. Do I have to throw away the rest of the formula if my baby doesn’t finish it?

Unfortunately, formula can spoil very quickly. Bacteria can be produced from the saliva that mixes with formula and can make your baby sick.

So the best practice is that if your baby has started drinking it, the bottle should be disposed of by 1 hour after. If they didn’t touch it, it’s ok to keep it for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

10. If I give my baby formula once in awhile, they may stop taking breastmilk

There is no way that your baby will end up preferring formula to breastmilk because of the significant taste difference. Breastmilk has a sweet taste that babies love. Formula is more chalky and not as appealing.

The one problem that you may experience is them liking to drink from a bottle more than the breast. It’s easier for your baby to get milk from a bottle than a breast, so they will experience less frustration with it.

Make sure that you’re using the lowest flow nipple (level 1 or premie) because these will be the hardest nipples for them to get milk out of.

Related post: 19 Tips to Try If Your Baby is Refusing to Breastfeed

11. What’s the best way to make-and-take formula on-the-go?

Bringing a can of powdered formula and water to mix your formula while you’re out-and-about can be frustrating. In my opinion, the best way to have bottles for your baby while you’re out is to premake it before you leave. Keep them in an insulated cooler to keep them fresh.

However, if you’re going to be out for an extended period of time and will need multiple bottles and can’t refrigerate them, there are easier options. For example, pre-measure the exact scoops that you will need an place it in a ziplock bag. Stick the bag in the bottle and you’re ready to go!

On-the-go hack: Put just water into each bottle you will need, measured with the exact amount of ounces that your baby takes. Scoop out the exact amount of scoops that you will need for each bottle into separate ziplock bags or easy formula containers. This way you can prepare the formula quickly and easily with no measuring!

Many moms have questions & concerns about feeding formula in a bottle to their baby. Here are some common thoughts new moms have about formula with infants.

There are also ready-made formulas that work as a great option. They come in small 4 ounce bottles so they are great to just pour into a bottle when on-the-go.

The only downside is that these are a lot more expensive than using powder. However, I would just use these in specific situations where I needed the quick ease and convenience of ready-made bottles.

Related Post: On-The-Go Checklist for Leaving the House With Babies and Toddlers

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I hope this addressed many of your concerns about formula feeding. You will figure out exactly what your baby needs. Good luck on your motherhood journey.

Many moms have questions & concerns about feeding formula in a bottle to their baby. Here are some common thoughts new moms have about formula with infants.

Hi I’m Marissa!

A mom of two little ones, here to provide some relatable experiences, tips, and tricks to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through raising babies and toddlers.  Read more about me here.