“Invented in the mid-1800′s as a last-ditch option for orphans and underweight babies, packaged infant formula has since been perfected to be a complete and reliable source of stress and shame for mothers.” -Tina Fey, Bossypants
These days, most women understand the benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding (it’s plastered everywhere, as it should be). BUT many might make the choice or might not have the option to breastfeed because of factors outside their control. To those mothers, you should hold your heads high, this post is for you...
Coming from me, a mother who was completely prepared and excited to breastfeed my first baby, I was shell shocked and totally caught off guard when at our first appointment our pediatrician recommended supplementing due to my daughter’s weight loss. Not only was I devastated, but I didn’t know what to do next. Without getting into the nitty gritty, I was not going to make enough milk to properly nourish my baby. It was time to get real and to find the best possible way to feed my baby, which in my case was using formula.
Making an unplanned switch can be daunting, but here are 6 tips to get ready for your formula-feeding journey.
1. Do your research ahead of time. There are so many brands, and you want to be knowledgeable about what you are putting into your baby’s body. Keep in mind that the formula you choose might not agree with your baby, and you might need to make an adjustment if that’s the case. Ask other mothers you know! They are going to be your best source of recommendations when it comes to baby “stuff,” and formula doesn’t have to be any different. If you are overwhelmed or confused, you can always refer back to your pediatrician too.
2. Supplies. Be prepared with everything you need if you know you're going to use formula. Whether you choose to use bottles or even an SNS (supplemental nursing system), I’d recommend buying a couple different brands and styles. After all, you don't know what bottle your baby will like, so you can stock up once you know his or her preferences.
3. Prepare bottles in advance. If you are using bottles, you will need to have all of them cleaned and sterilized after each feeding. Once that's done, you can save time by filling the bottles with water to the correct measurement. Then, once your baby is ready to feed, all you need to do is add the correct amount of formula, mix and warm. I will say that I’ve never warmed my babies bottle (if they were ice cold I would run them under a little warm water) but they drank their bottles lukewarm if not cool, which made it a lot easier when we were outside of the house. (Check out the Best Bottles of 2017 here!)
4. Set up a feeding station for nighttime feeds. If your kitchen is far away from your bedroom, pack up a cooler and bring up your supplies to keep by your bed. By setting up a feeding station close to where you sleep at night, it will make those nighttime feeds easier and get everyone back to sleep faster.
5. Be safe about it. Always check your expiration dates, whether powdered or liquid. Once you've opened, prepared or refrigerated the formula, you need to use it within 48 hours. Do not leave prepared formula out of the fridge for more than two hours. In other words, if it’s warm, it’s time to toss. Also, throw away any formula left in the bottle after a feeding because germs from baby's saliva will multiply in it.
6. Feel confident in your decision to formula feed. There are so many moms out there who hide the formula or feel ashamed (I can’t even tell you the number of times a mom has felt the need to tell me her entire feeding history because she's so ashamed she's using formula). But please, don't! Feeding formula to your baby is more than okay! As they say, fed is always best, no matter how you choose to feed your baby. Being a mom is hard enough, there is no need to carry the weight of any guilt for using formula.
Photography by Jonica Moore Studio for Well Rounded.