Breastfeeding may not be possible or preferable for all women. Sometimes a woman may feel embarrassed or apprehensive. Deciding to bottle feed a baby is usually based on the mother’s comfort level with breastfeeding as well as her lifestyle, but breastfeeding may not be recommended for some mothers and babies. Remember, your baby’s nutritional and emotional needs will be met whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed. If you have any questions about whether to breastfeed or bottle feed your child, please give our office a call.

Just as breastfeeding has its unique demands, so does bottle feeding. Bottle feeding can require a great deal of organization and preparation. Most infant formulas are available in ready-to-feed liquid forms, concentrates, and powders. Although ready-to-feed formulas are convenient, they are the most expensive.

Formula contains the right blend of vitamins, including vitamin D for a baby, so supplements are usually not necessary. Iron-fortified formula is recommended for a baby’s first year and should contain up to 12 milligrams of iron per liter. Water, juice, and other foods are usually unnecessary during a baby’s first 6 months. Formula provides everything babies need nutritionally until they start eating solid foods.

Specialized formulas are also available for infants with particular disorders or diseases. There also are formulas made specifically for premature babies. Also, be sure to check the package for details about feeding requirements since these may be quite different from regular formulas.

A few families still prefer to prepare their own infant formula, but most pediatricians discourage this. It is unwise to give your baby homemade formula without your pediatrician’s advice.

Make sure all bottles, nipples, and other utensils you use to prepare formula, or to feed your baby, are clean. You can simply use your dishwasher or wash the utensils in hot tap water with dishwashing detergent and then rinse them in hot tap water.

Any formula you prepare in advance should be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigerated formula doesn’t necessarily have to be warmed up for your baby, but most infants prefer it at least at room temperature. If you warm a bottle, test it in advance to make sure it’s not too hot for your baby. The easiest way to test the temperature is to shake a few drops on the inside of your wrist.

Babies know when they’re hungry and when they’ve had enough. Watch for signs that your baby is full (slow, uninterested sucking; turning away from the breast or bottle), and stop the feeding once these signs appear.

A rigid feeding schedule is not necessary. Most experts suggest you nurse or feed your baby whenever he or she seems hungry. Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding.

You can be assured that your baby is getting enough to eat if he or she seems satisfied, produces about four to six wet diapers a day, has regular bowel movements, sleeps well, is alert when awake, and gaining weight. A baby who is fussing, crying, seems hungry, and does not appear satisfied after feeding may not be getting enough to eat. If you are concerned that your baby is not getting enough to eat, please call our office.