Bottle Feeding and Formula: Expert Q&A

From the WebMD Archives

From how to hold the bottle to how much to feed, new parents have many questions about feeding. Here are some answers from board-certified pediatrician Renee A. Alli, MD, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics in practice in metro Atlanta.

What's the best way to choose a formula?

Your pediatrician may suggest a formula, or it may be given to you at the hospital. Unless you've talked to your pediatrician about any milk-based allergies or soy-based allergies that you or an older sibling might have, it will be a milk-based formula.

How do you know if you should change formulas?

If your baby has a rash or you see blood or mucus in your baby's diaper, tell your pediatrician. Those could be signs of a milk-protein allergy. If your baby is fussy when you're feeding him, spits up a lot, or has symptoms of reflux (arching his back, fussiness after eating, spitting up with most feedings), those may also be signs you need to change your formula.

How should you switch formulas?

If the symptoms are serious, like blood or mucous in your baby's stool, you would switch cold turkey. If it's a rash or your baby's spitting up or cranky, you can do it gradually. Your child's doctor will help you figure out a plan.

Is my baby more likely to be colicky with formula?

We don't know the reason for colic, but we know it happens in a baby's first 3 months. It can happen in both breast- and bottle-fed babies.

How much should I feed my baby at each bottle feeding?

Formula-fed babies usually drink about 2-3 ounces (60-90 ml) every 3-4 hours for their first 2 months. By 4-6 months they drink about 6 ounces and are up to a maximum of 8 ounces by the time they're 6-8 months old.

All babies drink different amounts, so check with your pediatrician during well visits to make sure your baby is gaining the right amount of weight. One tip: Wake your newborn to eat in the first month if she sleeps more than 4 hours.

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How should I feed my baby?

Make sure you're holding your baby and he's not lying down. Don't prop up the bottle, and be sure the nipple is filled with milk and not air.

Mix the formula according to the directions on the can or bottle. If it's labeled "ready to feed" or "ready to use," don't dilute it.

Check that it's not too hot or cold. You don’t want to microwave bottles because hot spots can form. The best ways to heat the bottle are by running warm water over it, or you can use a bottle warmer. Or, if you're mixing up a bottle, just use warm water.

How often should I stop to burp my baby?

You may not have to interrupt your baby's bottle to burp. If your child is full-term, she may take her entire bottle and then burp at the end. If your baby is premature, he may need to burp several times, and your pediatrician will likely have talked to you with advice on when and how to do it.

To burp, hold your baby upright on your shoulder or support him in a sitting position while gently rubbing or patting his back.

When should you put rice cereal in formula?

Only if your baby has been diagnosed with reflux and your pediatrician has told you to add it. Normally, you only feed rice cereal by spoon, starting when your baby is 4 months old.

Is it OK to feed a store brand of formula?

Ask your baby's doctor. She'll tell you which store brand is the same as the formula you're feeding now.

Do I have to use formula for the whole first year of life, or can I switch to milk at 9 months?

Use formula for your baby's first year. At your 1-year well-child visit, talk to your pediatrician about switching to whole milk, soy milk, or nut-based milk. Sometimes, 2% milk may be recommended in certain situations.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on January 30, 2015

Sources

SOURCE:

Renee A. Alli, MD, board-certified pediatrician, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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