Bottle-feeding basics

Whether your baby is a fiend for formula or an occasional expressed milk sipper, he’s likely to encounter a bottle during his first months of life.
By Christina MacDonald

Maybe you’ve been set on bottle-feeding your munchkin since day one. Perhaps you’re a working mom pumping and feeding your child expressed milk when you’re away. Or maybe your baby receives a bottle only occasionally when he’s with a sitter. Whatever the reason, your child is getting his nutrition from a source that isn’t you (directly, anyway), and it’s vital that you keep his bottles sanitized and his food stored properly. No worries, we’ll go over the important stuff.

Aspects to love

Bottle-feeding definitely has its benefits. Like breastfeeding, it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to bond with your child. Get comfortable, snuggle up, and connect with your new buddy! And whenever the need arises, allow daddy, grandma or any other willing person to feed baby his bottle and take some time to bond as well; unlike with breastfeeding, you are not your baby’s sole food source, which makes returning to work or leaving baby with a sitter much more feasible. For the mother who likes to know exactly how much her newborn is eating, bottle-feeding is a great way to keep track ounce by ounce. Another perk? Mothers of bottle-fed babies don’t have to worry about what they consume being conveyed to their children. Pass the cheese and wine this way, pronto!

Things to know
Although most doctors agree that breast is best when it comes to nourishing your child, formulas on the market today are replicating mother’s milk to the best of science’s capabilities, and there are a variety of nutritious types to choose from. Milk-based formulas are popular and widely recommended; soy-based formulas are suggested only when medically necessary. “True lactose intolerance is very rare during infancy. However, when there is a solid family history of lactose intolerance, or [for] vegetarian families, soy-based formula is a reasonable option,” says Lillian Beard, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Most standard infant formulas are cow’s milk-based and contain the intact proteins casein and whey. Casein, a harder protein than whey, sometimes causes more gastrointestinal difficulties in formula fed babies. Many infants exhibit less fussiness, gas and spitting up episodes when switched to a casein-free formula made from partially hydrolyzed whey protein,” says Beard. Your pediatrician can do a simple test of your baby’s stool in order to differentiate between digestion issues and true lactose intolerance. Also, be sure to choose a formula that contains DHA and ARA, healthy fats that are normally found in breast milk. “They are the major structural fats in the brain and can affect mental and visual development,” says Alan Greene, MD, author of Feeding Baby Green.

Properly using and storing formula is just as important, so be sure to follow the instructions on the package. Once the formula is prepared, refrigerate any that you are not immediately serving to your infant, and throw out any that hasn’t been used within the recommended time frame (usually 24 hours in the fridge). Additionally, it is imperative to always go by the directions provided when mixing formula with water. “Babies need to learn how many calories are the proper amounts to eat, and if you mix the formula incorrectly, the baby’s mechanism gets thrown off and the child can end up overweight or underweight in the long-term. Short-term, infants can become water intoxicated and have their electrolytes thrown out of whack,” says Greene.

What to buy

When it comes to shopping for bottle-feeding supplies, the plethora of products on the market can certainly be intimidating. “When choosing a brand of bottle, the most important thing to look for is BPA-free and EA-free,” says Greene. “In the last number of years, we have realized that there are estrogen-like compounds (EA) in plastics as well as BPA.” Also extremely important: keeping bottles, nipples, and accessories properly cleaned and sanitized. Boiling new items for five minutes or washing them in the dishwasher is effective; if in doubt, just check the package instructions. Limiting baby’s gas intake is desirable, although no brand of bottle has proven to be more effective than all the others. “Keeping the nipple filled with milk at all times is the best way to prevent most of the air swallowing” that causes tummy discomfort, suggests Charles Shubin, MD, Director of Pediatrics at Mercy Family Care in Baltimore, MD.

Lastly, don’t feed baby lying down. Says Shubin, “It leads to a marked increase in the incidence of ear infections, so it’s not a good idea.” Other things to keep in mind: Don’t prop your child’s bottle (choking hazard!), put cereal in baby’s bottle (no, it will not help your child sleep through the night), put baby to bed with a bottle (think tooth decay), or microwave baby’s bottle (uneven heating can burn your baby’s little mouth—ouch!).

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Posted in Baby Care, imported, Motherhood