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Baby Formula 101: Everything You Need to Know About Formula Feeding Your Baby

Formula feeding your baby? Having difficulty breastfeeding and thinking about switching over to formula? I’ve got all your baby formula basics covered!

baby girl formula feeding

My daughter was about a week old when I gave her her first bottle of baby formula. I felt so much mom guilt and shame that I wasn’t able to breastfeed her. Then, when she was around three weeks old we switched to formula feeding her exclusively.

She was basically formula fed her first year of life. Today, she is a happy little two year old and doesn’t have any of the ailments that are often associated with formula feeding.

Why Women Choose Baby Formula

Many women decide fed is best and choose to formula feed their babies either as a supplement to breastfeeding, or in lieu of it completely. Often moms who choose to formula feed have low milk supply or they can’t keep up with the demands of pumping.

There are also plenty of women who choose baby formula because breastfeeding was extremely stressful and not enjoyable for them. They decided that their mental health was better off with formula.

Is Baby Formula Bad?

Listen to me mama. Formula feeding your baby is not bad! There is more to being a mom than how you feed your baby. You are not a bad mom for choosing to formula feed your baby. There are a lot of myths out there about breastmilk vs formula feeding that simply aren’t true.

Dad feeding baby is one of the advantages of baby formula.

Infant formula is made to closely resemble the ingredients in human breast milk. Formula is regulated by the FDA and provides the nutrients and calories that infants need. Formulas must include minimum amounts for 20 different nutrients and maximum amounts for 9 of those nutrients. Some of the ingredients included in formula include:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Linoleic acid
  • Niacin
  • Folic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iodine
  • Vitamins A, C, D, E, K
  • Several B Vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12)
  • Minerals: Magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, )

Many formulas add in additional nutritional ingredients to their formulas including:

  • DHA
  • Lutein
  • Iron
  • Prebiotics

Benefits of Formula Feeding

I’m sure feeding your baby formula wasn’t your first choice. But now that you think it might be the best option for you and your baby, you might as well look at all the benefits!

  • Baby formula gives dad plenty of chances to bond with baby. My husband was able to bond with our daughter pretty quickly because he fed her so often. I know dads can feel helpless sometimes when they aren’t involved in the feeding process.
  • Other family members can help feed baby. This is so nice when you are visiting with grandparents. They can feed your baby and give you a little break.
  • You don’t have to worry about your own diet. Consuming wine, coffee, dairy, spicy foods, etc. won’t affect your baby.
  • Wear whatever you want. You don’t have to worry about having your breasts being easily accessible or leaking through clothes.

Disadvantages of Formula Feeding

Of course there are also disadvantages to formula feeding.

  • It’s expensive! We spent about $100 on formula each month. Look for baby formula coupons and other ways to save money.
  • It’s messy. Some days I would wash up to 8 bottles in one day. I celebrated the day I washed my last bottle and nipple.
  • It can be inconvenient. If you’re traveling or even out running errands, formula feeding requires you to pack enough formula, bottles, and nipples. This takes some planning and adds more to carry in your diaper bag.
  • It’s not as as nutritionally good for baby. There’s a reason breastmilk is called liquid gold. Formula doesn’t offer the immunity support that breastmilk does.
mom washing bottles formula feeding.

What are the Different Types of Formulas?

There are a few different types of formulas you can purchase and several brands within those types:

  • Powder based: This is mixed with water to prepare. Power formula is the least expensive option.
  • Liquid concentrate: Must be mixed with an equal amount of water.
  • Ready made formula: Doesn’t require mixing or diluting. It’s ready to use. This is the most expensive option.

Additionally, there are formulas that contain cow’s milk protein, partially hydrolyzed protein, extensively hydrolyzed protein, amino acid, soy, and lactose-free formula. Many infants do just fine on cow’s milk protein-based formula.

How Much to Formula Feed?

Wondering how much formula to feed your newborn? All of that will depend on their age, hunger level, and the rate they are growing. When Evelyn was one month old we would start with 3 oz and make an additional ounce or two if she drank the whole bottle. There should be a little liquid left in the bottle when baby is done. If they drain it, make them another bottle and offer it.

newborn baby with a bottle being formula fed
Amy Motroni

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