Q: We are expecting our first baby this summer. For health reasons, Ill be unable to breastfeed. Although a vast amount of information is available for breastfeeding mothers, Im having a hard time finding material about bottle-feeding (amounts and preparation of formula). Do you have any recommended resources or advice?
In recent years, theres been an increased emphasis on the health benefits of breastfeeding. As the number of breastfeeding initiatives has grown, the amount of information that mothers receive about bottle-feeding and formula feeding has declined. The good news about formula feeding is its typically straightforward and just a matter of learning to listen to your babys cues.
Prior to having your baby, its a good idea to choose a formula and bottle type. Newborns should use slow-flow nipples designed for babies 0-3 months. Milk-based formulas (standard infant formulas) are preferred over soy or hypoallergenic formulas as a first choice. Some babies may develop a formula intolerance, but formulas should not be switched without discussing it with your babys health care provider.
Feeding volumes vary. When a baby is first born, he or she may consume only half an ounce every 2 hours for the first 24 hours. By the second week of life, most newborns are drinking close to 2 ounces per feeding. The volume will continue to increase as they grow.
Its important to learn the signs of hunger (crying or sucking on hands) and monitor for signs of overfeeding (rapid weight gain or excessive spitting up). Generally speaking, if your baby is growing and gaining weight, then she is getting what she needs.
During feedings, hold your baby and make eye contact. This is an important bonding time. Babies should never be fed with a bottle propped up using blankets. Stop mid-feeding to burp your baby. If possible, switch arms for the second half of the feeding. This promotes better neck mobility and strength.
Information about formula preparation and storage is on the formulas package label. For more information, visit healthychildren.org.