Formula feeding is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort; you have to constantly track how much your baby drinks, ensure they get enough nutrition from their bottles, etc. The following formula feeding hacks and tips will help make bottle feeding easier.
But, there’s one thing that makes it even harder, and that’s the mom guilt that comes with formula-feeding. Others may assume mothers formula feed for the convenience of using bottles. But you never know someone’s situation, so no judgment is ever necessary. We’re all doing our best here!
You may also be trying to wean from pumping at the same time so the last thing you want is for bottle feeding to be difficult. This post will help you get through some common problems with formula feeding by sharing tips and hacks on making this process easier.
Is Formula Feeding Easier?
No, I don’t think formula feeding is necessarily easier than breastfeeding or exclusively pumping. Every way of feeding a baby has its advantages and disadvantages. I don’t think any method is notably more effortless than the other.
With breastfeeding, you never really know how much your baby is eating, and you need to feed on demand to make sure your baby is getting enough. On the other hand, when you are with your baby, you know you always have food available for them at any time.
Formula feeding also has advantages and disadvantages. Below are some hacks and tips that we will discuss to help with any burdens you may face.
Benefits of Formula Feeding
- You know exactly how much your baby is eating
- Your spouse or others can help with feeding time
- You don’t have to wear nursing tops or worry about leaking
- You can pack formula in the diaper bag without worrying about keeping it cold
Formula Feeding Hacks
This list of formula feeding hacks will make your day-to-day bottle feeding a lot easier.
1. Have an Organized Bottle Making Station
Having a bottle-making station will save you so much time and hassle. You can have this set up on the counter or close by, but out of the way from daily tasks like cooking. Staying organized and having a dedicated spot to make bottles will make the process go a lot faster.
What to include in your “bottle-making” station:
You should include formula, clean bottles, nipples, rings, and other bottle parts. You can keep all of your bottle parts in a small storage unit, like the one below, so they are always together and organized.
2. Have the Right Gear
Once you find a bottle that your baby likes, stick with it. You want a bottle that is easy to clean; dishwasher safe would be best, and one that will be easy for your baby to hold. Having a good bottle will decrease the amount of time spent during each feeding.
The bottle is usually not what needs to be changed out, but the nipple. If you think your baby is refusing their bottle, try changing the size and flow of the nipple first.
3. Once you Find a Formula, Stick with it.
Using a formula that your child likes is the first step to making feeding easier. If your baby takes well to one formula brand, stick with it! Changing formulas can increase gas and cause other digestive problems for your baby.
Pediatricians recommend using a formula for at least a week so you can tell how your baby reacts to it. Just because they are spitting up or refusing the bottle doesn’t mean the formula needs to change; other factors should change first.
There are a few different types of formulas:
Cow Milk-Based Formula. A typical formula is a cow’s milk-based formula. They are modified so the proteins are easily digestible for babies, and they are altered to resemble breast milk closely. Most are also fortified with vitamins and minerals such as iron which is essential for infant growth.
Soy-Based Formula. Soy-based is an excellent formula for families who don’t consume animal products or babies who cannot tolerate lactose. It is made from soybeans and fortified with vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Most pediatricians don’t recommend soy-based just based on preference, though, because it differs significantly from human milk. Unless there is an allergy to lactose, the milk-based formula is the best choice.
Hydrolyzed Formulas. These formulas have been hydrolyzed, which means their proteins have been broken down into smaller particles. These are for babies that can’t have cow’s milk-based or soy-based formulas due to an allergy.
Forms of formula available:
Powdered Formula: A formula in powder form; it needs to be measured and mixed with water—usually the least expensive.
Concentrated Liquid Formula: A liquid concentrate of formula that needs to be mixed with water.
Ready-to-Use Formula: These are ready to go as is. A liquid formula that is ready to drink does not need to be mixed with water. Very convenient for on the go, but usually the most expensive.
4. Pre Make Batches or Bottles
The formula can be premixed and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. So, you can make all of your bottles for the day and leave them in the fridge until you are ready for them. Grab them out of the refrigerator and warm using a bottle warmer when it is time to feed. You can also make a pitcher of formula and measure out the ounces needed for each feeding.
5. Serve Bottles at Room Temperature
Babies do not like cold drinks, but they don’t need to be warm either. You can serve their bottle at room temperature. Once your baby is used to room temperature bottles, you can make them and serve them immediately instead of heating up first. The only time you would have to heat the bottle is if it is coming from the fridge.
6. Pre-Measure Formula and Water for On-the-Go Feedings
Pouring too much or not enough formula is an easy way to cause a mess. Instead of measuring out the powdered formula while on the go, pre-measure it and store it in a small container that you can easily carry in the diaper bag. Store with a tight cap so nothing can spill during travel time. When it is time for your baby to eat, mix the premeasured formula and water for the perfect bottle.
7. Learn Correct Burping Techniques
Burping is not just done to get rid of air in the baby’s stomach. Burping will also decrease spit-up and ensure that all milk or formula has been properly digested. It is essential to learn how to burp your child correctly.
Take the time to burp your baby after a couple of ounces or halfway through their bottle. Check out this complete guide to burping, even how to burp the most challenging baby.
8. Read Labels to Save Some Money
Not all formulas cost the same. However, they could have the same ingredients and nutrition in them. You don’t always have to buy the expensive name brand to get a good formula. By reading labels, you will determine precisely how much nutrients your baby is getting per ounce and compare the different brands, which may help save time and money when purchasing formula for your child.
9. Try Hands-Free Feeding
Bottle feeding can become time-consuming because you have to sit and hold the bottle for your baby. By freeing up one hand, bottle-feeding becomes much more manageable. You can then multi-task a little and engage with your other little ones while bonding with your baby. There are many products out there to help you feed your baby with one or even both hands-free.
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10. Have Extra Bottles and a Good Bottle Washing Basket
Having extra bottles is always helpful. Some may say you need to wash bottles as you go throughout the day, but sometimes you don’t have time for that. Make sure you have enough bottles to use for the whole day, and then you can wash them all simultaneously.
Get a bottle washing basket that will hold all the bottles and parts, then all you have to do is put it in the dishwasher to thoroughly clean and even sanitize. Having a suitable basket for washing the bottles after use will save you time cleaning them in the sink.
11. Feed On Demand
You can still feed on demand when you are bottle feeding with formula. You have to watch your baby’s cues and learn which ones indicate a feeding is needed. Just make sure you are feeding your baby at the first sign of hunger. If you wait too long, you will have to calm them down before feeding, so they don’t suck in too much air.
Signs and Cues Your Baby is Hungry
- Sucking on their hands
- Trying to nuzzle your breasts and suck on your shirt
- Making lip-smacking sounds
- Turning their head and trying to find food, called the Rooting Reflex
- Starting to whimper
- Their hand is in a closed fist
Knowing when to stop feeding is just as important. You don’t want your baby to get overfull and spit up what they just ate. It’s important to remember they don’t need to eat the same amount or finish a bottle every time. Be sure to look out for these cues and signs that they are done eating.
Signs and Cues Your Baby is Finished Feeding
- Turning their head when the bottle is in front of their mouth
- Closing lips tightly
- Averting their eyes from the bottle during feeding
- Looking ‘milk drunk.’
- The body is relaxed, and their hand is an open
Formula Feeding Tips
Here are some extra tips that make formula feeding easier. These tips will make the most out of bottle feeding and make your day-to-day life go smoother.
- Use Filtered Water– you don’t want to boil water for each bottle, so make sure to use filtered water each time.
- Use the Ready-Made Formula on the go– sometimes traveling with a bottle of formula can be a pain. A great tip is to buy ready-made formula drinks on the go. Toss them in the diaper bag so you always have some on hand.
- Use Different Nipples– sometimes, babies have issues with nipple flow. If there isn’t enough or too much milk coming out, your baby may need another nipple.
- Feed at an Angle– make sure you hold your baby at an angle (about 45°) while they feed. This will help them control their milk intake and help with any spit-up after feeding.
- Feed Slowly– you don’t want your baby to drink too quickly. If they are gulping the bottle down, they may not fully process everything and just spit-up.
- Use the Boppy Pillow as a Bottle Drinking Place– this pillow already has the proper height and angle that will be comfortable for your baby to drink. Of course, this only works if your baby can hold their bottle.
- Use Glass Bottles Instead– ditch the plastic bottles and use glass instead. Glass is easier to clean and won’t accumulate bacteria when washed in the dishwasher.
- Track Feedings– keep track of how much your baby is eating and how often; that way, you know how much formula you will need for each day. Writing down how much your baby ate and at what times will help keep track of their growth and ensure they are eating enough.
- Wash Bottles All at Once– by washing all your bottles in bulk, it saves time on just doing one here there.
- Switch Sides After Burping– hold your baby in the opposite arm after burping. This mimics breastfeeding and ensures you are taking the time to burp your baby halfway through a feeding.
- Use Storage Bins for Bottle Parts– using a small storage bin to store all the extra details from each bottle will save you from having little pieces rolling around your home. It also makes it easy to grab what you need when making a bottle.
- Get a Dishwasher Basket– by getting a dishwasher basket for bottles and parts, you can easily keep track of feeding accessories in one spot without losing or misplacing any parts to the bottles. Plus, it is so much easier to wash them too.
- Get a Bottle Warmer that can Travel– by getting a bottle warmer that can travel with you, you will be able to do feedings on the go without having to mix it up in your car or hotel room. You can grab a premade bottle out of the cooler and heat.
- Check Expiration Dates– formula can go bad. Make sure to check the expiration date on your can before use. You can also write it down in your feeding log or cross-reference the date when you bought it.
- Look Out for Coupons or Free Samples– sometimes you can find coupons for formula or free samples. Name brands will usually send samples to new moms to try out too. This can help save a little money if there is an excellent sale on the brand you use or don’t know what brand to use.
- Don’t Let Mom Guilt Take Over. You are doing what is best for your baby. Don’t feel bad about using formula. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or less of an advocate for breastfeeding; it just means that formula is the right choice for your little one.
FAQ’s for Formula Feeding your Baby
1. How often should a newborn feed on formula?
The best way to feed a newborn is on-demand. Follow their cues on when they are hungry and full; that way, you are not over or underfeeding. On average, a newborn will take about 1-3 ounces every 3-4 hours. The demand will slowly increase depending on your baby’s weight and age.
Additional formula feeding guidelines:
Another way is to take your baby’s weight and multiply it by 2.5. This gives an estimate of the total number of ounces your baby should eat in 24 hours.
For example, for a 12-pound baby:
12 * 2.5 = 30 ounces in 24 hours
2. Can I feed formula every 3 hours?
How often they eat depends on their age and weight. Newborns tend to drink small bottles more frequently until they start to gain weight. Then they should eat on average about every 3-4 hours or 6-8 times a day, so using the above information for a 12 lb baby:
30/6= 5 ounces every bottle & 30/8= 3.75 ounces every bottle
Meaning your baby should eat about 3.75-5 ounces every 3-4 hours. You can see there is a lot of variation, and each feeding might be very different, so on-demand can sometimes be more straightforward.
3. How do you prepare nighttime formula feeds?
For nighttime feeds, you want to be sure to prepare as much as you can before you go to bed. Have all the bottles you will need that night cleaned and ready to go. You can make a batch and keep it in the fridge to be warmed when required, or you can measure out each bottle with the powdered formula and have the water on standby, ready to mix. As long as you are organized, nighttime feedings can be easy and fast.
4. How do you make formula feed on the go?
Use small containers to pre-measure the formula for each bottle. Pack in the diaper bag with some bottled water so you can mix as you need them. Another option is to use Ready-made formula when you are on the go.
5. How can I make my formula feed faster?
Have an organized bottle-making station, so it becomes like an assembly line when making a bottle. Having everything accessible and in a specific spot will make bottle-making faster and smoother. Don’t worry about heating anything by using room temperature water; mixing and going is way faster than waiting for it to come to the right temp.
Another option is to get a Brezza Instant Warm Water Dispenser. It dispenses the perfect temperature water for a bottle. It even has a room-temperature water setting if you prefer that. These are so convenient!
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6. Can you make a big batch of formula?
Yes, you can make a big batch of formula and keep it in a pitcher in the refrigerator, ready to go. You can premake formula for up to 24 hours and keep it in the fridge. So mix up all you think you will need throughout the day and keep it on hand; fill a bottle and heat as you need it.
7. How can I make night time formula easier?
Tips to make nighttime formula feeding easier:
- Use a warm water dispenser (like the Brezza above)
- Take turns with your spouse
- Have bottles ready to go
- Have everything organized and laid out
- Keep lights low, so you don’t fully wake yourself or the baby
With a bit of preparation, formula feeding does not have to be time-consuming or difficult. These formula feeding hacks and tips should help your bottle feeding. Try to stick with the same formula and bottles you know your baby likes; switching too often can cause digestive issues.
If you are worried you may not be giving your baby enough or are giving too much, try feeding on demand. Pay attention to their hunger and full cues, so you know when to feed your baby. Pre-measure formula into bottles so you don’t have to do it when you’re in the car or at night. It’s also helpful to prepare bottles ahead of time during your waking hours and keep them in the fridge for later use.
Formula feeding can be tricky, but it becomes much more manageable with some hacks and tips. Whether you’re making bottles on the go or preparing for overnight feedings, this article has all of your formula feeding worries covered.