There is so much emphasis and support on breastfeeding, while formula feeding is often left behind. No doubt however that “breast is best” but when mothers have to rely on formula, here are my tips:
- Discuss a suitable choice of formula with your pediatrician as each baby is different. Consider an organic brand. Many doctors will recommend you to use Nestlé Nan in which case it is important to be informed about Nestlés unethical business practices around the world. They are the world’s largest food company and control many brands. They only way to stop them is to avoid buying their products.
- In August, 2014 they have been voted as the least ethical company of the last 25 years. Read more.
- They are subject to the world’s longest boycott (over 30 years), read why, here. Join the Nestlé boycott here.
- They are draining developing countries’ groundwater to make their Pure Life bottled water, destroying countries’ natural resources before forcing its people to buy their own water back. Read more.
- Read more on their other unethical business practices.
- Always wash your hands before preparing a bottle (obviously).
- Always follow the mixing instructions to the “T”.
- Discuss with your pediatrician whether tap water is ok for mixing at home (be green!) and if you should boil it first. When on the go, choose a brand appropriate for babies – e.g. Evian. Other bottled waters may contain a high dose of salt and minerals which are taxing to baby’s sensitive digestive system.
- Choosing the right bottle and can also be tough. Try different ones as well as teats/nipples. Each baby is different. Plastic bottles may contain “nasties” (even if they say BPA free etc) that can leach into baby’s milk, especially when repeatedly exposed to severe heat… (More in a future post). Glass or stainless steel are truly the safest alternative if that concerns you.
- Hold your baby close to you when feeding so they don’t miss out on bonding and alternate the position, just like you’ll do when breastfeeding.
- Pre-measured milk powder dispensers are a life saver for “on the go”. Make sure you carry extra servings + enough water for mixing to allow for several hours (you never know).
- When travelling, “pre-mixed” formula containers are super.
- Teach your baby to be flexible by serving his bottle at different temperatures. Both my babies have been perfectly fine with room temperature milk, always.
- Very important: follow your midwife’s/pediatrician’s instructions about whether or not to first sterilise the prepared formula (especially in the early months) as, contrary to what most people believe, the WHO have issued a warning that “Powdered infant formula is not sterile. It may contain bacteria that can cause serious illness in infants. Correct preparation and handling reduces the risk of illness”. Read more here and here.
- Getting your baby to accept a bottle can be challenging…if you leave it too late. If you’ve overcome the initial very important establishment phase of breastfeeding and your latching is “top-notch” – consider introducing a bottle per day of expressed breastmilk and you will never have the headache most mamas have when they eventually want to introduce a bottle. I did that with both my babies as from week 2/3. (While it’s important to note that breastfeeding was established well at that time.) What’s more – daddy had his daily important task of 1 feed per day before bedtime, giving me a breather from baby once he came home (just when I was about to lose it..) Thereby, with 1-to-1 daddy-baby-bonding time, his chances of experiencing postnatal paternal depression (just as common as maternal depression) decreases.
- Lastly – if you’ve tried breastfeeding and it didn’t work out for you, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re still an awesome mama! I’ve been a formula-fed baby from the get-go and look how amazing I turned out! Focus on the here and now and what you can do today to optimise your baby’s health. When it’s time for baby to explore the world of food, you can set the stage for a healthy life to come, right from the start. Opt for easy to digest, real foods that will support the healthy development of your baby’s gut and closely observe your baby’s particular reactions to all foods as each baby is truly unique in their nutritional needs. Book your Holistic Weaning Workshop with us when your baby is 3 months or older, so you have plenty of time to learn and digest the information, so by the time your baby is ready, you are too.
More about the Author
As mother of two darling babies, Certified IMPI Holistic Sleep Coach, Baby Planner and Happiest Baby Educator, Marise Hyman provides worldwide maternity coaching for expecting/future/new parents through Marise Hyman Maternity Coaching – setting them up for success, so they can sail into their new lives with confidence!
She is also the founder of the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep, an edgy non-profit organisation raising awareness for green, natural & holistic parenting alternatives, birth rights and postnatal mood disorders by offering a variety of inspiring social and educational events in Luxembourg