What type of formula should I use?

Choosing a formula for your baby can be overwhelming! First, you’ll need to choose which type of infant formula to use. There are three types:

Powders: mixed into sterilized water

Concentrates: liquid concentrate mixed into sterilized water

Ready-to-use: liquids that can be poured directly into bottles (or come in single-use bottles with nipples) and do not require mixing with water

The type of formula you choose may depend on your budget. Powder is the least expensive and ready-to-use is the most costly. Concentrates are often priced right in the middle. Frequently, ready-to-use formula is recommended for newborns as it’s easy to use and requires no preparation. In most cases, which type of formula you choose depends on what will work best for your baby, your family, and your feeding routine. However, if your baby was born before 37 weeks or weighed less than 2500 grams at birth and is under two months of age, or if they have a weakened immune system, it’s recommended to stick with ready-to-use formulas. Common brands are Enfamlil, Similac, and Good Start.


Should I used a cow’s milk or soy-based formula?

Even after you’ve decided what type of formula you’ll be using, there are a few more choices to make.

  • Cow’s milk based formulas. This is the most common kind of formula to use, and most babies start with this formula. You can also choose organic cow’s milk formulas.
  • Soy-based formulas. Some parents switch to soy when their baby is lactose intolerant or has allergies to cow’s milk.
  • Hypoallergenic formulas. These are designed for babies with allergies to milk or soy proteins. The proteins are easier to digest.
  • Specialized formulas designed for low-birthweight babies.

How do I decide what formula to use?

To help you decide which formula to choose, ask your care provider which brand they recommend. It’s common to try a few different kind of formula before finding one that works well for your baby. When you switch to a new formula, it’s a good idea to stick with it for at least a week to see how your baby responds to it. With a small, developing digestive system, frequent switching could cause digestive issues or an upset tummy.


Should baby formula have DHA?

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is critical for healthy brain, eye, and nerve development, and it’s naturally found in breast milk. Babies begin to make their own DHA from nutrients in their diet.  As a result, today, practically all formulas contain DHA.


What supplies do I need for bottle feeding?

In addition to the formula you’ve decided on, you’ll also want to have a few more feeding supplies on hand:

  • a selection of bottles. How many you’ll need depends on how often you’ll be bottle feeding. If you’re using bottles for most feeds, aim to have 8-10 bottles. Begin with 120mL (4 ounce) bottles at first, and transition to larger ones as your baby grows.
  • bottle nipples. Which brand you use will ultimately depend on yours and your baby’s preference. Start with a slow-flow nipple as your baby gets used to using a bottle.
  • a bottle warmer is optional, but may make preparing bottles faster and easier.
  • some parents like to have a bottle brush and nipple brush for cleaning.


Do I need to sterilize baby bottles and nipples?

It’s recommended to sterilize your feeding equipment once a day. You may choose to buy an electric bottle sterilizer, or to use the dishwasher (top rack only). Of course, you can also sterilize your bottles by submerging them in boiling water for 5 minutes. In between sterilization, rinse your bottles with hot soapy water and let them air-dry.


How do I prepare a bottle of formula?

When you can, it’s best to prepare one bottle of formula at a time and feed immediately. However, you can prepare bottles ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Don’t leave a bottle out of the fridge for more than two hours, and throw away any of the formula left in a bottle after a feeding to prevent bacteria growth.

Begin by washing your hands. How you prepare your baby’s formula will depend on which type you’re using (powdered, concentrate, or ready-to-feed). Be sure to read and follow the directions on the package. If you’re boiling water, make sure it reaches a full rolling boil for 2 minutes, and let it come down to 70°C (this will take about 30 minutes) before mixing with formula. Always add the water to the bottle before the powder or concentrate to be sure you’re mixing the right ratios.


How much formula does my baby need?

Most babies drink an average of 60-75mL per pound, per day until they’re about 6 months old. For example, if your baby weighs 15 pounds, they’ll probably drink between 900-1125mL of formula each day. It’s normal for newborns to take small amounts (30mL) more frequently. As your baby grows, they’ll begin to go longer between feeds and to drink more formula at each one. By 1-2 months, your baby may be take up to 90mL at each feed.

Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues and and watch for signs that they’re done eating throughout the feed. Just like breastfed babies, formula-fed babies will change their eating patterns during growth spurts. Always feed your baby on demand (not on a schedule), and let them set the pace for their feedings. And if you have no idea what a hunger cue is or how to tell if your baby needs to eat, check out our prenatal Newborn 101 classes!


Does bottle feeding effect my bond with my baby?

No! Not at all. The bond between you and your baby will be just as strong, regardless of how you choose to feed them. Create a meaningful routine to make feeding times special. Choose a quiet, calm space and take time to make sure you are comfortable. Use pillows to support your arm, and hold your baby in a semi-upright position. Let your baby latch onto the nipple, and keep the bottle gently tipped to allow the nipple to fill with formula. Be sure to give your baby lots of breaks to catch their breath, and reduce the angle of the bottle if the flow seems to be too fast for them. Check out our post on Paced Bottle Feeding for more info!


How do I burp my baby?

It’s common for bottle fed babies to swallow more air than breastfed babies. When this happens, air bubbles in the stomach can create gas and discomfort for your baby. They can also “trick” your baby into feeling full- even when they’re really not! Be sure to burp your baby halfway through a feeding and again at the end of the feed. Try different positions until you find one that you like. You might try holding your baby over your shoulder (firefighter-style), or sitting them on your lap and supporting them under the chin. If your baby won’t burp, don’t stress- simply carry on and try again in a few minutes!