Formula Feeding

Parenting in the Early Years

Formula Feeding

There are many reasons why you may use formula to feed your infant.

A variety of infant formulas with iron are available. Concentrated formula (liquid or powder) is more economical than ready-to-feed formulas. Once opened or mixed, liquid formula should be discarded after 24 hours when refrigerated, or after 1 to 2 hours if stored at room temperature.

Sterilization of bottles and water is not necessary if you use a city water supply. Well water needs to be checked for nitrates. To be safe, use bottled water until your well water is tested.

Mother feeding baby with a bottle

You can prepare formula one bottle at a time or a 24-hour supply. Be sure to wash the bottles and nipples in hot soapy water and thoroughly rinse them.

Mix powdered or liquid concentrate according to the directions, using unsoftened water. Warmed water will help dissolve the powder more easily.

Do not add more water or formula than indicated in the directions. This can be dangerous. Once mixed, the formula must be stored in the refrigerator. Bring the formula to room temperature before feeding. Do not heat formula in the microwave. This has been associated with mouth burns.

Your baby will start out taking 1/2 to 2 ounce at a feeding and gradually increase the amount over the next several weeks. Do not limit the volume of formula; let the baby decide. Always put more in the bottle than the baby takes. This assures you that she has had her fill. You will quickly learn from your baby's response how much formula is wanted. The schedule is usually erratic at first and later on will typically settle into a more predictable schedule. It is not necessary to awaken your baby at night for a feeding if she is full term.

At feeding time, assume a comfortable position with your baby in a semi-sitting position. Do not feed her lying down. Do not prop the bottle or let your baby feed unattended.

Formula feeding mothers may experience breast engorgement.

Tips on Bottle Feeding

Warm milk should drip through the nipple at about one drop per second. Slightly loosen the cap on the bottle so that air bubbles flow easily into the bottle when the baby sucks.

Prepared formulas have vitamins and iron in adequate quantities, so you do not need to give additional vitamins. When mixed with a fluoride water supply, the formula will have the required fluoride.

Well Water

If you have well water, you will need to have it checked for nitrates and bacteria. This is important because, if the nitrate content is too high, it will decrease the ability of the baby's blood to carry oxygen. Bacteria in the water can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Boiling well water may kill the bacteria, but it will increase the nitrate level. Until these tests return, you should use bottled or city water.

Nitrogen content (nitrate level) of 10 mg./liter or above is considered dangerous and bottled or city water must be used until the baby is at least 6 months old.

The State Lab of Hygiene has water-sampling kits. They can be obtained at:

465 Henry Mall

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53792

(608) 262-1293

Most well water is deficient in fluoride, necessary to prevent tooth decay. Your doctor will determine if a fluoride supplement should be prescribed.