Parenting lesson 20: When Breastfeeding is not possible...

Topics covered in this post-

  1. How to choose a baby formula

  2. When can my baby start drinking cow's milk?

  3. How much milk to be given to my child?

  4. What type of milk bottles I should use and how to keep them clean?

How to choose a baby formula

Breastfeeding might be the best food for the baby but not all babies are satisfied with it. At times, the mother might not lactate enough or breastfeeding at all times may not be viable. The baby formula comes to the rescue in such situations since it quite appropriately provides the baby with the necessary nutrients. But is every formula the right one for your child? Looking for the healthiest baby formula might provide you with more questions than answers. It is necessary to understand the various aspects associated with it first.

Different Forms of Baby Formula

1. Ready-to-Use Formula

Open the lid and give it to your child. These are the only two steps needed for this formula. Most of the times, such formulas are used in hospitals where a newborn child needs to be fed quickly. On a general basis, if you’re travelling around with your baby, such formula avoids usage of any outside water and, therefore, stays the safest option to give your child.

These formulas are extremely expensive. And since they are ready to eat, the containers are larger in size to keep the formula protected. If you open the lid, the formula needs to be consumed within 48 hours or thrown away. Its darker colour can cause it to form stains on clothes if it drops.

2. Liquid Concentrate Formula

It is expensive compared to the powdered formula but the cost to convenience is pretty good. All it takes to prepare the formula is to mix equal amounts of formula and water. This helps in reducing the measuring time and can assist in preparing the formula quickly. The container comes in smaller compared to the ready-to-use one, too.

3. Powdered Formula

This is the one that maximum parents opt for, especially when the formula has to be fed to the baby on a regular basis. It is convenient to carry around, easy on the pocket, lasts for as long as a month even after the container is opened, but a little tricky when it comes to preparing the right amount.

Powdered formulas require measuring out the powder in the right amounts and mixing it with water, adhering strictly to the instructions on the box. This can quickly get taxing, especially when waking up in the middle of the night to prepare it.

When can my baby start drinking cow's milk?

You should wait until your baby has reached her first birthday, before giving cow's milk as a main drink.

It is fine to use small amounts of cow's milk in cooking from six months onwards. Curd, paneer and mild cheese are also fine to feed your baby from six months. But cow's milk as her main drink will leave her short of important nutrients before she's one year old.

Even when you introduce a glass or sippy cup of milk to your baby’s diet, you can continue breastfeeding. The Ministry of Health recommends you continue to breastfeed until your child is two years old.

Why wait until one year to give cow's milk to my baby?

Cow's milk doesn't contain enough iron for young babies. Using it as a substitute for breastmilk before your baby turns one will leave your baby short of important nutrients and may lead to anaemia (too little iron in the blood). Infant formula milk contains more iron and vitamins than cow's milk, and is the better alternative to breastfeeding for the first year if needed. Also, babies can't digest cow's milk as completely or easily as breastmilk or formula. Cow's milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals, which can tax your baby's immature kidneys.

After the first six months, breastmilk is not a good enough source of iron, so breastfeeding mums should make sure weaning foods contain plenty of iron. This means using foods such as lean red meats, vegetables and purées of fresh or dried fruit in your baby's diet. Once your baby is a year old and ready to digest it, cow's milk can supplement a balanced diet of solid foods that include cereals, vegetables, fruits and meats.

How much milk to be given to my child?

First, let’s talk about what a toddler actually is, as there is generally some confusion. Your baby technically becomes a toddler on their first birthday and that whole second year, they are toddlers until they reach two. Some folks, myself included, will consider 2 year olds toddlers as well. The end point of toddler-dom is less as important as knowing that it does begin at 12 months old. The reason it doesn’t matter is because the milk recommendation for toddlers is the same for all children through age 9!

So, how much milk should a toddler drink?

The same clear and definitive answer is 2 cups or 16oz of milk in one day, and that’s in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Remember, that starts at 12 months or 1 year old. Of course, there is some transition time, after all, most babies at 10-11 months old are drinking between 24-30 oz of milk a day. The switch shouldn’t happen over night. But, once your child does reach their first birthday, it’s important to start being aware of how much milk they’re drinking and begin to focus more on their food. Milk is still VERY important for their development, it’s just no longer the star of the show.

This can be hard to get used to as parents because the emphasis on milk was huge up until this point. Check out this study if you’d like to read more about why 2 cups of milk a day is the magic number that’s suggested.

It’s also okay for your toddler to drink up to 18-20 oz in a day, as long as they are eating well. Some toddlers can handle, and may even need, those extra couple of ounces. The problem with going over 16 oz, after you’ve been through the weaning process, is that they may fill up on too many of their calories with milk and they won’t look to food to fill them up, which they now need to be doing.

However, if your 1 or 2 year old won’t eat and only drinks milk, you may need to proceed a little differently, more on that in a bit!

On the other side of the coin, sometimes toddlers have a hard time drinking that full 2 cups in a day, especially when they are transitioning from bottles or breastfeeding. The experience of drinking from a cup can be very different for some kiddos, and it can take some time. In this case, cheese and yogurt also count as part of their two cups of milk in a given day. Some children never take to drinking much milk, most of the time that is just fine if your child is growing and developing well. But, your doctor may want to put your toddler on a vitamin D supplement or even a calcium supplement. Head over to Everything About Children’s Vitamin’s to find out more.

What type of milk bottles I should use and how to keep them clean?

You have three simple choices:

1. Plastics

Pros: They are lightweight, sturdy and unbreakable.

Cons: Plastic baby bottles cannot last longer than glass bottles. And if you use older second-hand bottles, you might have bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to produce hardened plastic. In 2012, the FDA prohibited the use of BPA from baby bottles and Sippy cups, but older ones may have it.

2. Glass

Pros: They're going to last a long time, and you can boil them for a deep clean.

Cons: They're heavier than plastic, and they can break if you drop them.

3. Removable

Pros: These reusable plastic bottles have a sterilized disposable lining for each feed. They're very convenient because cleaning is easy.

Cons: Disposable inserts cannot be great for the environment, and the bottles are typically more costly than standard plastics or glass. You will need a supply of liners, which can be expensive.

D0’s and Don’t for bottle cleaning

1. Do not sterilize baby bottles and nipples before use. This practice was only appropriate in the past when local water sources were not as secure as they are now. You will want to sterilize fresh glass baby bottles and new nipples by holding them in boiling water for 5 minutes. After that, you may wash bottles in a dishwasher that cleans them better than hand-washing them or wash them by hand with hot, soapy water and rinse well.

2. Do substitute baby bottles and nipples if you find a package that just doesn't meet your baby's needs.

3. If cracked or chipped, fix a glass bottle of the baby.

4. Replace a plastic baby bottle if it breaks, spills, discolours or smells unpleasant.

5. Replace a nipple if it is discoloured or not in good condition (a damaged nipple can be a choking hazard) or if milk comes out too quickly.

Turn the bottle upside down to test the flow. Just a few drops are expected to come out. If nothing is done, the hole is too wide, and your baby can get more formula than he can handle. Nipple packages should set the flow rate for them.

6. Do mark bottles of breast milk for storage.

7. Don't buy a bottle of a baby warmer unless you want one. It's simpler and cheaper to keep a baby bottle in a glass of hot water for a few minutes. Even don't heat the bottle of your baby in the microwave. This can produce hot spots in the liquid since the microwave doesn't heat evenly.

8. Don't feed a baby the rest of the bottle started earlier, even though it was chilled.

When should I stop using bottles?

Having your little one to let go of the bottle can be tough, but it's important to get rid of it for 18 months to prevent obesity, iron deficiency, tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems. Introduce a Sippy with meals for around six to nine months, and start replacing Sippy's daily bottle feeds around their first birthday. Help make the change easier for your little one by timing it correctly, encouraging them to pick up their cups, dilute the milk in the bottle, give praise and alternate sources of warmth, and hold the bottles out of reach.