New moms are often bombarded with advice about feeding a new baby. Well-meaning friends and family members will often try and guilt or shame you into their way of doing things. But the truth of the matter is that FED really IS best.
Whether you are a die-hard formula mom who is confident in her choice or a breastfeeding mom who understands the need for occasional supplementation, there are a few handy tips that can make feeding your baby a lot easier.
Don’t Let Your Own Supply Drop
Supplementing with formula is great for nursing moms as it allows them to “take a break” once in a while, which can help them both physically and mentally. But it’s important that you keep your milk supply up if you plan on continuing to breastfeed.
A great way to do this is to pump some milk from the breasts at the same time as the baby is getting their bottle. This not only keeps the supply going strong, but it will keep mom from becoming engorged from missing a feed. If supplementation is going to be a regular thing every day, then you can slowly stop pumping over time or just do less and less each day to keep the risk of engorgement low.
Wait A While
Most doctors and lactation specialists will advise you to wait at least a month before introducing a bottle to your baby. It is important to firmly establish a breastfeeding routine before risking nipple confusion. Sometimes it’s just not going to be practical to wait that long, though, and that is okay, too. Just give it as long as you can.
Decide beforehand how long you intend to breastfeed so that you can make the best choice early on as to how long you want to exclusively rely on the breast. If you’re only intending to nurse for a few weeks, the risk of nipple confusion isn’t as important because the worst case scenario is that the baby weans onto a bottle a little bit earlier than planned.
Don’t Bottle Your Emotions
If your baby won’t take a bottle right away, stay calm. There are tons of reasons why they may be rejecting it, and it isn’t necessarily a rejection of the formula. Before you go off and spend a small fortune on new formula, try out a different bottle.
Much like you may have a favorite coffee mug, babies can have preferences for bottles and nipples. Try one of the many bottle brands which feature a more breast-like design to make the transition easier. Check the nipples to make sure the flow is good – not too fast or too slow and appropriate to their development.
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Don’t Go It Alone
Feeding your baby bottles of formula can be hard for moms. Whether you’re just feeling guilty about it or your baby is actually rejecting taking a bottle from you, it can often be a great time to get someone else involved in the process.
Let your partner have a turn feeding, burping and maybe even dealing with spit-up! Maybe Grandma wants to feed her grandchild. Or maybe an older sibling wants to feel more involved. Allowing someone else to give the bottle will help with bonding and give mama a much needed break!
Not All Formulas Are Created Equal
The truth is that most formulas these days are nutritionally complete and absolutely fine to give your baby. But different brands have different formulations for different situations. An infant formula is very different from a formula geared toward toddlers. Their needs are different, so they are formulated differently.
Similarly, there are varieties specific to individual baby’s needs. For instance, there are versions for sensitive baby tummies that can’t handle lactose. And gentle versions which are partially hydrolyzed, meaning they have cow’s milk in it, but the milk protein is broken down for easier digestion. These formulas can be expensive if you buy brand name, but there are definitely cheaper alternatives, so be sure to shop around.
At the end of the day, moms have their own reasons for supplementing with formula. Sometimes it’s out of necessity and other times convenience, and both reasons are totally valid. But it’s important to do it right if you’re going to properly supplement.