Formula Feeding – 9 Things To Avoid When Using Formula

Formula Feeding - 9 Things To Avoid When Using Formula

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.

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  1. I used mineral water to bottle feed my baby since he became 1month old.I really don’t know that it was not good for my baby.But atleast,now I know.Thanks for this article!Starting today,I will use boiled water to bottle feed my baby.But I don’t understand about the BOILED WATER.Do you mean after 30 minutes,I must boil another water again?Please answer.

    1. This is probably a bit of a late reply. But yes you should make each bottle fresh with freshly boiled water. Which can be difficult I know when baby is screaming for food. What we do is boil the kettle and then fill a flask which keeps the water hot. Next time she needs a feed we use the water in the flask. We use the flask when going out as we don’t like carrying made up bottles with us and always prefere to make a fresh one. If you start to know your babies routine you can prep a bottle In time for feeding. So if you know your baby usually feeds every two hours and she last fed at 8am then you know she will want a bottle at 10am. So 20min before you can boil the kettle and prep a bottle in time for feeding. I once kept a log for a week of my babies days what time she slept, what time she fed etc… I noticed a pattern straight away and this helped a lot with knowing when she would be hungry and when it was time to put her down for a nap.

      1. My Dr. said you don’t have to boil water, purified drinking water that is kept in the fridge or at room temperature on the counter is fine. You can also boil your water and than put in the fridge.

        1. Formula is not sterile. If you do not use boiling water, you run the risk of bacterial infection. This is why the World Health Organization recommends boiling water. It’s not just in third world countries where we’ve had both water and formula bacterial outbreaks.

          1. If formula is not sterile then why isn’t this information printed on formula tins? Instructions clearly state use “cooled” boiled water to prepare formula.

          2. Because you use boiled water to make the formula, then cool it down. You may have seen news media reporting on outbreaks of disease due to bacteria in formula – even in Australia we had one. Better safe than sorry I think 🙂

    1. It’s okay to mix feed your baby if it’s needed. But you need to know that you cannot mix formula and breastmilk together, and you should give breastmilk before formula:

      If you’re giving formula because you don’t think you have enough milk, please see a lactation consultant first. The less you feed your baby breastmilk, the less you will make, as your body will think the baby doesn’t need it. So the more you breastfeed (or express breastmilk) the more milk you will make. BellyBelly has lots of great articles in the breastfeeding section to explain this. All the best!

  2. My baby is 1)ear old, in the process of teething. He refuses to eat and so I feed him soft poridge for the time being. I mix cereal with his milk which I read is wrong. But what vitamin can I give him to ease the pain and start eating again? Also tips on what to feed him.

      1. My little one went through a stage like this but when she was six months, unfortunately not much you can do about it. Are you in the UK as you can get free vitamins for baby. Though not sure if you can at 1yr old. Check with your health visitor. I found yogurt is always good when teething, try going back to some cold fruit purée. Never add food to a bottle. I would say if you have a feeding schedule you might have to just throw it out of the window for the time being and just try to feed when you can and when he seems to be not struggling so much with the teeth. We feed teething powder half hour before a feed and the seems to help.

  3. My 7 and a half month old baby girl is teething but, while she has her solids, has gone off milk. I used to give her breastmilk and formula but now she will not take the bottle unless she is really really hungry. Worries me as I don’t think she is getting enough milk daily. She will have a little bit of breastmilk twice a day and I give her cereal with formula twice a day to boost her milk consumption. Any ideas of how to get her to drink more milk again?

  4. We have been using baby water (comes in gallons) since day 1-as I understand this water does not have to be boiled

  5. I didn’t know you have to boiled water every feed. What I do is boiled lots of water already in a pan and use that in a whole day.

  6. You don’t have to boil the water each time! As long as it’s consumed within one day. It’s sill to have to boil the water each time. I’ve done this with my 5 month year old since birth with no problems.

  7. please i will like to know the effects of feeding your baby with a left over formula.
    people say its ok to feed your baby with a left over formula even if its 2 hours or 3 hours.
    will like to know if it has any effects or not
    thank you.

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