BellyBelly supports mothers feeding their babies in all sorts of ways.
Often we are told by those who have switched to formula that they found it difficult to find good information on how to formula feed their babies, which can be particularly distressing after a difficult time with breastfeeding.
If you feed your baby with formula, there are important health and safety guidelines that must be followed to best protect your baby.
These safety guidelines ensure that your baby receives the right amount of nutrition and is as healthy and safe as possible.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #1: Avoid Microwaving Formula
Avoid heating up a baby’s bottle in a microwave, no matter what’s in the bottle.
Microwaves do not heat milk evenly, and may cause ‘hot spots’ to develop within the liquid. These hot spots could burn your baby’s mouth. Swishing or shaking may help with the hotspots, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when making formula for a hungry baby.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #2: Never Change The Recipe
Every tin of formula clearly states the instructions for preparation. These instructions must be carefully followed each time you prepare formula milk.
The preparation procedure varies between brands and products, so always check the instructions before making up a feed.
If you add too much water, your baby may not get enough nutrition.
If you add too little water, your baby could be at risk of dehydration.
It’s essential for your baby’s health and wellbeing to follow the recipe exactly.
The only exception to this rule is if your baby’s paediatrician has told you to make up the formula in a certain way due to a medical condition.
You should not add anything extra to your baby’s milk, despite advice from friends or family members who may be trying to help you fill your baby up, or make them sleep longer. Even if they say they did it and turned out fine, it still doesn’t matter – when we know better, we do better. We now know that longer, deeper sleep than biologically normal is a SIDS risk. It’s important for babies to wake.
Baby cereal and other solids should not be added to a baby’s bottle. Here are 4 important things you need to know about rice cereal.
Find out what 7 things you shouldn’t add to your baby’s bottle.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #3: Do Not Use Mineral Water To Make Up Formula
Sometimes when fresh water is not available or due to misinformation, some parents have been known to use mineral water instead of normal boiled water.
Mineral water is a carbonated water that contains high levels of minerals that could harm your baby. Some mineral waters contain high levels of sodium, often higher than the recommended daily sodium intake for babies. Mineral water can also contain dangerously high levels of calcium for your baby’s kidneys.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #4: The Water Must Be At Least 70 Degrees Celcius
Not only can bacteria be found in water, but formula in a tin is not sterile.
Bacterial outbreaks have occurred in both water supplies and from formula manufacturers, even in countries like Australia. So in order to protect your baby, boiled water should be used, then cooled to drinking temperature.
The World Health Organization guidelines recommend that water used to make formula should be at least 70 degrees Celcius.
Before giving it to your baby, cool feeds quickly by holding under a running tap, until it reaches feeding temperature. The water should not be left for more than 30 minutes after boiling
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #5: Don’t Store Feeds For Too Long
A bottle of formula provides ideal conditions for the growth of harmful bacteria. Even the bacteria from your baby’s saliva can multiply inside the bottle. If your baby doesn’t finish a full bottle, the World Health Organisation recommends throwing the contents away after two hours.
If you carry cooled down boiled water with you when travelling, this should be discarded if unused after 24 hours.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #6: Avoid Overfeeding Your Baby
Your baby is the best person to judge his hunger levels. If your baby stops feeding, take the bottle away. He will soon let you know if he wasn’t quite finished.
Don’t expect your baby to finish a full bottle each feed.
Learning a baby’s hunger cues can help.
Also see our article: Bottle Nursing – 6 Steps To Better Bottle Feeding.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #7 Do Not Put Your Baby To Sleep With A Bottle
Babies left unattended with bottles are at risk of choking.
If your baby falls asleep with a bottle in his mouth, the milk will continue to drip into his mouth, causing it to pool around his teeth. This can cause tooth decay.
For this reason, you should avoid bottlefeeding your baby to sleep at night.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #8 Do Not Leave Your Baby To Feed Himself
You should never prop the bottle up and leave your baby to feed himself.
This method of feeding is a choking hazard.
Formula Feeding Safety Tip #9 Never Leave The Formula Warming For More Than 10 Minutes
Most bottle warmers have a built in thermostat that turns off the heat source after 10 minutes. If yours doesn’t, or if you are warming the bottle manually, you must make sure it is removed from the heat in 10 minutes.
Leaving the bottle for longer than 10 minutes can allow bacteria to breed in the formula. This could give your baby diarrhoea.
Mixing Formula With Breastmilk
Breastmilk should not be used as the water component for formula.
If you’re mix feeding your baby, feed the breastmilk first (separately) then feed your baby formula. For more information on mixing breastmilk and formula, please read out article here.