I am also starting to prepare myself mentally by reading as much as I can. Some things I am reading just to remind me how to do it all again with a newborn, others are new pieces of information. One 'new' area I am moving into is breastfeeding. My milk never properly came through with my daughter, Abigail. I think this was for a combination of reasons (that would be a whole different post). However, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to breastfeed this time, so I am reading up on it.
Doing this it has made me reflect on the fact that finding information on formula feeding was so difficult. When I was trying to find tips the first time around it was so hard to find any information. Most sites simply told you that 'breast was best' but if you 'HAD' to, then formula feed. There was advice about making sure you give the right amount of formula, but not many tips on how to store it, pack it etc. Not to mention the many guilt inducing sites, that implied you were doing the wrong thing by formula feeding. Personally i'm pretty sure not starving my child to death was in her best interests, but anyway...
So, with that in mind, I want to share a few tips I learnt in my journey feeding my daughter. I will also share some tips other people have found useful, so you can find what works best for you!
Preparing for the day
We found that our daughter fed about 8- 6 times a day depending on her age and the amount of formula she was drinking. At night time we would steralise all bottles, then prep them for the upcoming 24 hours. This is how we did that
- We had 2 formula containers with 4 compartments each. We measured the correct amount of formula into each compartment. This way we had it ready to go, and did not have to try to measure out the formula in the middle of the night while tired. Trust me, 2am is not the best time to pause and ask yourself if you had put 2 or 3 scoops into the bottle!
- We had each sterilised bottle filled with boiled water to the correct level for the amount of formula. These would sit at room temperature on the kitchen bench next to the pre measured formula.
When it was time for a feed we would add the formula to the water, shake well, then heat it in the microwave. Always microwave without the teat on, just to ensure the teat does not overheat, or cause any possible pressure build up of the bottle.
By the next night after the last bottle was used all bottles were sterilized and the system was set up again.
- Some people prefer to pre mix the formula with the water and keep the bottles prepared in the fridge. We preferred not to use up our fridge space, but it you may like this better!
- Some people suggest making up a days worth of formula in a large jug, and then pour it into a bottle. Some babies drink more or less at different times of the day, so this can be a good method for that. However, you do need to be careful worth measurements with this method. You are more likely to over or under calculate your water to formula ratio
- With any pre-made formula you must use the formula within 24 hours
Sterilizing and cleaning bottles
It is very important to properly clean you bottles and teats. We found it best to rinse out a bottle once used, then put it in our microwave sterilizer. That way most formula residue was already washed out, and then the bottles are sterilized that night.
Once a week we would also soak the bottles and give a good scrub with a bottle leaning brush before sterilizing.
- Some people prefer to use a sterilizing tablet or solution such as Milton. If you use this method you wash out he bottles, then soak them in the water solution. My sister used to do this and she kept all the bottles in the solution in a sealed container until they needed using
- Some people prefer to use an electric sterilizer instead of a microwave one. Or you can use a large stock pot and boil your bottles. You do need to check that your bottles actually fit in whichever sterilizer you use!
Feeding while out
The trickiest part in formula feeding is having the water warmed for a feed. I tried a few methods with varying success. I must admit, I was pretty pleased when my daughter decided she liked formula at room temperature!
So, here are all the methods I tried
1) Take a bottle with prefilled water. Fill a thermos with boiling water, and have a container big enough to fit the bottle in, plus water. When the formula needed warming I would mix up my pre-measured dry powder with the water int he bottle, then I would put the bottle in the larger container. Fill around the bottle with boiled water from the thermos, let it sit until warmed.
- Could heat the bottle no matter where we were
- Time consuming (so you have to anticipate when bubs needs a feed, or listen to their hunger screams until warmed!)
- Takes up a lot of space having to carry a thermos and bowl (Although some bottles might fit in your thermos lid)
- Need a really good thermos that stays hot
- Less time consuming than the above method
- Could heat bottle no matter where we were
- If you over added hot water you could have a dilemma
- Can be a bit of back and forth until you get the right temp
- You had to have somewhere to pour the water out.
3) If you are heading out for just one feed you could fill the bottle with boiled water, and by the time bubs is ready for a feed the water should have cooled down
- Simple, quick and could heat bottle no matter where we were
- You are relying on the water being cool enough by the time bubs wants is
4) Have water measured in bottles. Take container with pre-measured formula. Use a microwave to heat (often in the parent room, or can get a cafe to heat it for you) or ask for boiled water from a cafe/restaurant to heat the bottle
- Less to carry
- Can be heated quickly
- Most shopping centres have a parents room with a microwave or at least a bottle warmer (I never liked the bottle warmers, the water always seemed dirty, they were often broken or I couldn't work out how to use them!! )
- You are relying on there being a microwave/ boiled water accessible. Some cafes will not heat your bottle, or give you boiled water, for liability reasons
- If you get someone else to heat the bottle you run the risk of them over or under heating the bottle
They are all the methods I know of. In the end I used option 4 the most. However, if I thought I would be going somewhere that there was no access to a microwave or cafe I would pack a thermos in the car. Even better, see if your bubs will take the milk at room temperature, and then all the above is solved. I discovered Abbie would take it at room temp when she was about 6 months. We were on the opposite end of the centre to the parents room, and she was screaming hysterically for her feed. Desperate times, desperate measures!
So there are some of my best tips for formula feeding. If you have found your way here looking for some tips and advice I hope you find the above helpful. If you have any tips yourself please share in the comments below. Most of all, enjoy this precious time of your child's life!
Note: I will be moderating the comments. There are some crazies out there, and for some reason how you feed your baby can be a sensitive issue. I will not tolerate any shaming or formula feeding bashing. No mother that chooses, or has to, formula feed does so without knowing that breast is best. Enough said.