All that you need to know to formula feed your baby

Congratulations, now that you have decided to start weaning your little-one off breast milk, and decided to formula feed the little one. In this blog, we try to ensure that we can help you get acquainted with all aspects of formula feeding ranging from what kind of feed to choose to making sure everything remains safe and hygienic.

A) Sterilizing equipment

The following steps apply to every kind of feeding equipment for a baby whether first infant formula or breastmilk is used.

The first two thing to do before starting the sterilization process:

  • Ensure your hands are well washed with water and soap
  • Thoroughly clean the work surfaces with soapy hot water on which the equipment will rest. 
  • Examine both the teat and the bottle for any kind of damage, after which place both the teat and the bottle in soapy hot water and insert a clean bottle brush inside the bottle to clean all sides. Using a dishwater is not recommended as the equipment will be cleaned but not sterilized.
  • After thoroughly cleaning all the equipment should be rinsed under clean running water before beginning the sterilization process.

Different kinds of sterilization

Steam sterilization:

This can be done using a microwave/ electric sterilizer.

  • Read the instructions of the manufacturer and follow them. 
  • Ensure that the teat and the bottle openings face downward while sterilizing.

Cold water sterilization:

  • Read and follow the instructions of the manufacturer.
  • Make sure to replace the sterilizing solution every 24 hours.
  • Dip and leave all the equipment immersed completely in the solution for a minimum of half-an-hour.
  • Ensure to check for no air bubbles that remain trapped in the teats/ bottles when immersed in the solution.
  • All the equipment including floating submerger must be well immersed within the solution.

Sterilizing by boiling:

  • When sterilizing through boiling ensure that nothing is left unattended.
  • Check and ensure all the equipment you plan to sterilize is safe to be boiled.
  • All the feeding equipment must remain completely immersed in the hot water for a minimum of 10 minutes. 
  • Always check the condition of the teats as they get damaged quicker with frequent boiling. 

B) Making the formula feed:

  • Whenever you intend to make baby formula use fresh clean water to pour into the kettle. Never use any water that is artificially softened or been boiled earlier. Neither is bottled water considered suitable as it can have too much of sulphate or sodium and may not be sterile.
  • Por at least a liter of fresh cold water preferably from a running tap.
  • Then boil the water for around 20-30 minutes and let it cool for another 30 minutes until the temperature lowers to about 70C.
  • First thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water and then disinfect the surface you intend you use.
  • In case of cold-water sterilization, drain off all excess water from the teats and the bottle. You can also rinse both under the boiled and cooled water.
  • Do not place the teats and bottles on any work surface and instead place them on the upturned sterilizer lid.
  • Read the manufacturer instructions and fill the right quantity of water to the prescribed level.
  • Fill up a scoop of baby formula and level it evenly using the provided leveler or dry clean knife. Add the number of scoops in the bottle as per the instructions on the baby formula pack. 
  • Screw on the retaining ring on to the bottle with the teat and cover it with its cap while shaking the bottle firmly for the formula to dissolve completely.
  • The formula needs to be cooled down sufficiently so that is not too hot for the baby to drink. One ay of doing this is by holding the bottle under a running tap of cold water and moving it about to ensure it cools evenly.
  • Check the temperature of formula on your wrist before giving it to the baby. It should be either cool or mildly warm so that it does not burn the baby’s mouth.
  • If any extra formula remains do not keep it and discard it instead.
  • To ensure the formula feed is infection free, make a fresh amount every time the baby needs to be fed.

C) Items need for formula feeding

Once you begin to formula feed the baby it is critical that all the equipment is well sterilized so that there is no risk of any kind of infection and the baby getting an upset tummy.

The following items are needed:

  • Bottles with their caps and teats
  • A set of brushes to clean the teats and the bottles and their caps.
  • Any type of sterilizing equipment like a steam-sterilizer/ Microwave/ cold-water sterilizer.
  • Either ready-to-feed formula or formula milk powder
  • Kinds of teats & bottles: The kind of teats and bottles you plan to select for the baby will depend on the stage of weaning they are at. Most newborns are comparatively fed less than older infants, so generally smaller bottles are needed in the first few months. Later as the baby grows parents switch to bigger bottles.
  • Teats are sold in 2 shapes natural and round. You can buy both kinds and check which kind the baby prefers feeding from.  The flow rates in teats if of three types, slow, medium and fast. For newborn babies begin with slow flow teats so that they are not fed too much too quickly.
  • Once they are accustomed to being fed from the bottle and they are bigger, you can switch to the medium and finally the fast-flowing teat depending on the comfort levels of the baby when feeding.
  • When unsure about the kind of teat discuss it with your gynecologist or midwife.

D) Kinds of formula

In the first year of birth infant formula is the best choice. There are a wide variety of brands available in the market and there is not really any much difference in the composition. However, if unsure you could check with your doctor.

For what duration should I feed my baby the first formula?

Remain with first formula for the duration of year one. It is recommended for breastmilk or first formula to be the main source of nutrition for a baby in the first year. Using pasteurized milk is not much suitable at least in the first six months. From the seventh month onwards, it may be mixed in limited quantity with food.

Once the baby is a year old, they can derive the necessary minerals, vitamins and energy from semi-solid foods and gradually full fat milk also may be introduced gradually. After the first year, there is not any need for use of any kind of formula. 

Storing formula feed

With an aim to prevent any kind of infection to the baby it is best to only use fresh formula food prepared as and when the baby needs to be fed. If there is no other option other than using stored food check with the healthcare service provider about the best way to go about it.

Any formula that is leftover after the feed should be done away with. As a norm any kind of baby formula food must be discarded within 2 hours of preparation at room temperature.

Ready-to-feed formula

Before suing any ready-to-feed infant formula every bit of equipment needs sterilization. Any ready-to-feed formula remains sterile until the pack is opened. Once the pack is opened it should be stored in a fridge with the cut flap turned downwards for a most of 24 hours.