The Nestery's Ultimate Guide to Formula Feeding in India
We all know that breast milk is the absolute best for your baby. The WHO recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then continuing breastfeeding upto the age of 2 years and beyond. However, sometimes breastfeeding does not come easily to a mother.
If you are facing nursing issues, consult your doctor and a lactation consultant to help with nursing. You could also check out The Nestery's blog post on troubleshooting nursing roadblocks here. Once your doctor and lactation consultant both agree that breastfeeding will not work and that the baby needs formula, you can gear up for formula feeding.
Unfortunately, it is hard to find a formula feeding guide so, we at The Nestery decided to create the ultimate guide for formula feeding in India!
STARTING FORMULA FEEDING:
- What brand of formula should I use?
Ask your doctor for a recommendation. If the doctor shames you in any way for using formula, you need to find both a new doctor and a good brand of formula. Make sure you get a steady supply of the brand you have chosen. Don't go for a fancy imported brand only to find out it ran out at all the chemists and baby shops in your city!
- Which bottles are the best?
This is a personal choice. Try a few brands and see what works for your baby. If your baby seems gassy, uncomfortable or is spitting up a lot, try a different bottle. In general, Philips Avent and Dr. Brown make excellent feeding bottles. The latter makes glass bottles too, if you don't want to use plastic. Make sure you replace the feeding bottles every 3 months or when they start looking cloudy.
- How do I choose the size of the nipples?
Bottle nipples come in different sizes - newborn, slow flow and then usually sizes according to age. Start with the newborn size and then check in with your baby to see when to change the size. If the baby seems frustrated, too slow or meets the age recommendation for the next size nipple, try it. The sizes for older babies have more holes and the milk flow is faster. The age guidelines are only a recommendation though, and if you find baby gasping, spluttering, spitting up, struggling in any way go back to the previous size. Please replace the nipples every couple of months.
- How do I clean my bottles and nipples?
Get a bottle brush! Avoid getting one with a sponge. It harbours bacteria. Any basic brush should be okay. I suggest also getting a brush especially for the bottle's nipples. Use hot water to brush and rinse your bottles.
- Do I need a steriliser?
You wash the bottles to get rid of residue. Sterilising is what cleans them. Depending on your energy levels, get either a stand alone plug-in steriliser or a microwave one. For travel purposes, you can get microwave steriliser bags from Medela or Dr. Brown. If you are unable to get your hands on a steriliser, just immerse the bottles and nipples in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilise.
The list above contains all the basics you need to start formula feeding. However, there are a few more accessories which are helpful, although not necessary to own:
- Formula powder container- This can be super helpful. You can pre-measure the amount of formula powder that you need so that you don't need to scoop it out every time.
- A big muslin cloth- You can put this around your baby's neck rather than a small bib. It is useful for wiping if your baby spits up, if there is milk dribbling out of the baby's mouth etc.
PREPARING & FEEDING FORMULA:
- How do I prepare formula milk?
To prepare a bottle of formula, all you need is to mix water and formula powder. The water needs to be at 70°C or above because formula powder is not sterile. You can heat it in advance and store it in a flask rather than heating it each time that you have a hungry, screaming baby. When it is time to feed, add water from the flask, making sure it is at 70°C and above, and then add the formula powder you have pre-measured in your formula container.
Things to remember:
*Remember to use level scoops, not heaped scoops.
*Remember to mix well so that there are not any lumps of formula left floating in the bottle. They can also get stuck in the nipple.
*Remember to NEVER dilute formula. It reduces the nutritional value of the formula. Please follow the exact measures given on the formula tin.
Remember, you cannot store formula. Once the baby is done, throw the rest.
- How much formula do I need to feed?
Your baby will let you know! For a newborn, start with 30ml at a feed and increase it to 60ml when you baby turns one month old. Observe how much the baby is drinking. If the baby is emptying a bottle/seems hungrier, there is no harm in offering more. But if the baby is drinking only half or so of what you offer, you could offer less as well. Basically follow the baby's hunger cues and make sure you do not force feed. The guidelines on the formula box/tin can give you a rough idea of age and quantity needed but don't follow it too strictly.
- How do I hold my baby while formula feeding?
Make sure your baby is in a semi-sitting position. Do not have your baby lying down while you bottle feed as it could cause choking or ear infections. Remember that even feeding via a bottle can be an act of love. Make eye contact with your baby and see each bottle as a bonding experience.
- How do I make nighttime feedings easier?
Keep your clean bottles, flask of water and your pre-measured formula right next to your bed. When you baby is hungry, just mix and feed. You and your partner can split nighttime feeding duties to get more rest.
5. When do I stop formula feeding?
You should stop formula feeding once the child reaches age 1. After this, you should ideally wean your child from both formula milk and feeding bottles. There is no need for Stage 3 formula, geared toward toddlers. You can offer cow's milk if you wish to along with solid food (solids should be introduced at 6 months of age).
The other two posts in this formula feeding series will cover:
- How to night wean a formula fed baby - (https://thenestery.in/blogs/journal/how-to-night-wean-a-formula-fed-baby)
- How to switch from formula to cow's milk and bottle to a cup - (https://thenestery.in/blogs/journal/weaning-from-formula-to-cows-milk-transitioning-from-a-bottle-to-a-cup)
Hopefully, this information will be helpful to all the parents and caregivers who need to formula feed but have no idea where to start. If you have any more questions or suggestions regarding formula feeding, let's chat on The Nestery's Facebook group The Nest.
Remember, while breast is best, formula is food too!
- Aparajita Kumar
Aparajita Kumar is a mother of two who is passionate about gentle, respectful parenting. She loves sharing information and ideas about gentle parenting in an endeavour to support and inspire her fellow parents. She has also been a formula feeding mother.