Baby Formula: Strategies for Supplementing

Filed under: Babies

Dad can help with bottle feedings. Credit: Getty

Let's face it: You would love to breast-feed your baby exclusively for the first six months of her life, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But, the thing is, reality has this habit of sometimes getting in the way of even the best intentions.

Whether it's your work schedule, breast-feeding difficulties or other issues that arise, sometimes you just need to to supplement breast-feedings with formula.

But don't feel bad. Supplementing breast milk with baby formula can be beneficial for a mother and can serve as a way to allow other family members to be involved with the care of the new child.

First things first: Be sure to discuss your feeding plans and concerns with your doctor before deciding to supplement or make other changes with your baby's diet.

Although baby formula provides all the nutrients an infant needs, mother's milk has a unique ability to boost a baby's immune system against certain illnesses. Before supplementing with baby formula, consider purchasing a breast pump to store milk, so you may offer your child bottles of your own breast milk between nursing sessions.

Once you've talked to your doctor and decided to add a supplement to your infant's feeding routine, you'll need to choose what kind of baby formula to use. There are three main forms of baby formula: ready to use, liquid concentrate and powdered.

Ready to use
is the easiest and most sterile version, which can be especially important for low birth weight babies, but it's also the most costly and bulky. Liquid concentrates require you to add water, but cost less and are easier to carry around than ready to use. Powdered formulas are the most economical, environmentally-friendly and easily-stored version of baby formula, but require mixing and measuring.

Baby formula also comes in a wide range of types, from cow's milk-based to soy-based to lactose-free formulas. There also are formulas designed for easier digestion and for babies with various allergies and illnesses. Be sure to consult with your doctor when choosing a formula.

Some babies won't want to accept a bottle filled with baby formula -- or any bottle, for that matter -- right away. One tip is to keep the nursing mother out of sight and smelling range when presenting the first bottle of baby formula to the infant so he doesn't reject the formula in favor of the breast milk he's accustomed to. Also, don't try to start bottle feeding with an overly hungry or fussy baby -- the new stimulus can cause him to be easily frustrated.

Unfortunately, there's no sure fire way to get an infant to accept the bottle, so patience is a must.

Lastly, be careful to gradually implement baby formula bottles into your schedule, both for the sake of your own body's milk production and your child's digestive systems. Always share any concerns or questions you have with your baby's nutritional plan with your doctor.


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.