The major health organizations — including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) — agree that breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for babies (especially during the first 6 months). However, only you can decide what's best for you and your baby.
Whether you've decided to formula feed your baby from the start, are supplementing your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you're bound to have questions. Here are answers to some common inquiries about formula feeding.
No. You shouldn't leave your baby unattended or feeding from a "propped" bottle. Propping a bottle is a choking hazard and also can lead to ear infections and baby bottle tooth decay, a serious dental condition that results from formula (as well as breast milk or juice) pooling in a baby's mouth. Always hold your baby during feedings.
No. You should never put your baby to bed with a bottle. Like propping a bottle, it can cause choking, ear infections, and tooth decay.
Some babies are allergic to the protein in cow's milk formula. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
Report any of these symptoms to your baby's doctor, and follow his or her advice on switching to a special hypoallergenic formula. But even if the doctor suspects an allergy, don't spend too much time worrying that your child might be allergic forever. Kids often outgrow milk protein allergies within a few years.
Most doctors usually recommend giving babies cow's milk formula unless there seems to be an allergy or intolerance, in which case the doctor may recommend soy or hypoallergenic formula. Soy formula — with added iron — is as nutritious as cow's milk-based formula.
Some parents may worry after hearing or reading about certain soy concerns, particularly about phytoestrogens (hormone-like chemicals from plants) that are found in soy formulas. These concerns need to be studied further, but so far research has not found definite evidence that soy formulas negatively effect a child's development or reproductive system.
Soy formula should be used under the direction of your doctor, but it can be an alternative to cow's milk formula for full-term infants. However, soy formulas are not recommended for premature infants.
No. Commercial infant formulas with iron are manufactured to contain all the nutrients your baby needs.
Infants —whether breastfed or formula-fed — do not need fluoride supplements during the first 6 months. From 6 months to 3 years, babies require fluoride supplements only if the water supply is deficient in fluoride. Ask your doctor about what your little one needs.
Your baby's fussiness may or may not have anything to do with gas or the formula, nipple, or bottle you use.
If your baby does seem to be really fussy, here are some things that may help ease the gas pains and comfort your little one:
Sometimes, fussiness and gas may be a sign of milk allergy or lactose intolerance. But be sure to talk to your doctor first before switching your baby's formula. Let the doctor know how your baby is acting so that he or she can rule out any other possible causes.
Sometimes, babies spit up when they:
Many infants will spit up a little after eating or during burping because their digestive tracts are immature. That's perfectly normal. But spitting up isn't the same as vomiting all or most of a feeding.
If you're concerned or your baby is vomiting (that is, forcefully vomiting much of a feeding) more than once a day, call your doctor. In rare cases, there may be a problem that needs medical attention.
It also may help your doctor to properly diagnose the problem (if there is one) if you keep a record of exactly how often and how much your baby seems to be spitting up. He or she should be able to tell you if it's normal or something that's cause for concern.
But again, it's important to remember that spitting up is usually perfectly OK. If the doctor says your baby's spitting up is normal, here are some ways that may help ease it:
Also, keep in mind that many babies grow out of spitting up by the time they're 1 year old.
Before making the decision to switch, be sure to talk to your doctor. Parents often assume that formula plays a part in a baby's fussiness, gas, spitting up, or lack of appetite. But often that's not the case.
If giving the OK to switch formulas, your doctor will recommend a way to do it so that your baby's feedings and digestion aren't interrupted. The doctor may suggest mixing the two formulas together little by little, then eventually eliminating the original formula altogether.
Reviewed by: Joseph DiSanto, MD, and Karin Y. DiSanto, IBCLC
Date reviewed: January 2012
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|World Health Organization (WHO) WHO, the United Nations' specialized agency, works to give people worldwide the highest possible level of health - physically, mentally, and socially.|
|Burping Your Baby Feeding a baby for the first time is an exciting experience for any new parent. Here's a quick guide to one important aspect of feeding - burping.|
|Milk Allergy in Infants Almost all infants are fussy at times. But some are excessively fussy because they have an allergy to the protein in cow's milk, which is the basis for most commercial baby formulas.|
|Feeding Your Newborn How you feed your newborn is the first nutrition decision you will make for your child. Take a closer look at these guidelines for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding so you can make an informed choice.|
|Formula Feeding FAQs: Getting Started Shopping for formula-feeding supplies can be downright intimidating, especially at first. Here are answers to some common questions about formula feeding.|
|Feeding Your 1- to 3-Month-Old Whether you've chosen to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, your infant will let you know when it's time to eat.|
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