Choosing, preparing and storing formula
Once you have decided to bottle-feed your baby, you will have to choose a suitable formula and learn the ropes of preparing and storing her daily bottles.
Choosing the right formula
If you are unsure of which type of forumula to opt for, your baby's doctor or health visitor will be able to advise you. The most widely used formulas are made from cow's milk, although soya milk formulas are available for babies with milk allergy. Most cow's milk and soya milk formulas are similar and will provide enough calories and nutrients to meet your baby's needs. However, the sources and kinds of nutrients differ between brands.
Infant milks can be either whey-based or casein-based. In whey-based milks, the cow's milk protein is adjusted so that the casein to whey ratio is similar to that of breast milk. In casein-based milks there is more casein than whey: the ratio remains the same as cow's milk. Whey-based milks are the first choice if a mother does not breast-feed, whereas the casein-based formulas are generally used if the baby appears not to be fully satisfied on a whey-based infant milk.
Your baby will need a special infant formula if he or she is diagnosed with a problem in which certain substances found in breast milk or formula cannot be digested or processed properly. In special formulas, one or more of the basic nutrients - usually the protein and/or carbohydrate - have been modified into an alternative form that your baby can tolerate better.
There are various types of special formulas. Examples include higher-calorie formulas for premature babies; hypoallergenic formulas for babies allergic to cow's milk or soya milk; and predigested formulas for babies who cannot digest proteins, fats, and other substances present in breast milk or standard formula.
Essential fatty acids and docosahexanoic acid
Essential fatty acids are components of fats that we must get from our diet because our bodies are not capable of making them from other substances in food. They include linoleic acid and are necessary in the body to make cell membranes and many important hormones. They also make other chemical messengers, which “tell” our body how to function properly.
Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is an important chemical that our body makes from essential fatty acids. It is essential from conception through infancy for the normal growth and development of the brain and vision. DHA is the most abundant fat in breast milk and certain infant formulas now contain this essential fatty acid.
Preparing and storing formula
Make sure you follow safe, strictly hygienic procedure when you are preparing and storing infant formula.
- Always buy and use formula before its use-by date.
- Use a perfectly clean can opener to open liquid formula. After opening, use the contents straight away.
- Follow the manufacturer's directions precisely. If you do not add enough powder, your baby will not get enough calories. Too little water will cause your baby to get too high a concentration of formula, which may lead to diarrhoea, dehydration, or overfeeding.
- Use fresh boiled and cooled tap water for formula preparation, not water that has been repeatedly boiled. Also do not use artificially softened water, nor water that has been filtered through a jug.
- Wash baby bottles, teats, and any equipment in hot soapy water, then rinse well and sterilize.
- Your baby may like formula warmed to body temperature. You can warm it by standing the bottle in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water.
- Do not use a microwave oven to warm formula. There may be “hot spots” in the formula that burn your baby's mouth.
- Before giving any warmed formula to your baby, make sure you always check the temperature yourself.
- Do not use a liquid or prepared formula that has been frozen or stored at temperatures below 0°C (32°F) or heated above 35°C (95°F).
- If preparing formula in advance, store it in the refrigerator, to minimize any bacterial growth.
- Throw away any refrigerated formula that has not been used within 24 hours.
- If you and your baby are going out, put the right amount of powdered formula in a few bottles, then add freshly boiled and cooled water when ready to feed.
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