5 Things I Hate about Formula Feeding (and 5 Things I Love)
We’ve outlined the different types of formula, and the fact that Stars & Stripes Doulas are in the “fed is best” camp. Whether a family has decided to supplement their baby’s feedings with formula, or formula feed from the get-go, there is no denying that formula feeding comes with its very own unique frustrations. Here, I will outline my most recognized formula draw-backs, followed by a list of benefits that formula feeding can offer.
- Formula Preparation can be a Hassle
There are many steps to consider when safely preparing a formula bottle. First of all, you need to make sure your bottles, nipples, caps and rings are cleaned properly. This means sterilizing everything before your first use. After which, you can toss said bottle parts into a top-rack dishwasher, or simply wash with soap and water after each use. Each type of formula, whether it is liquid concentrate, ready-to-use, or powdered, has its own list of instructions based on the manufacturer (so make sure to always read the instructions before using a new type or brand of formula).
The World Health Organization recommends these methods when preparing powdered formula, especially in the use of premature or newborn babies. These steps will help ensure no harmful bacteria will make their way to your baby.
Parents can often feel ashamed or judged when it is known their baby drinks formula. This experience is compounded when breastfeeding or pumping was strongly desired by the family, but for whatever reason, did not work out.
Even though it is not our job as parents to worry about what others think, it still stings a little to get the unwelcome glare from a complete stranger as you fumble to mix up a formula bottle in the mall food court. Formula feeding, when done correctly, is a perfectly acceptable way to feed your baby. Do not allow people to make you feel like you are mixing your baby up a martini instead of a bottle of baby milk!
- Formula is Expensive
One thing about formula feeding that can be a burden or stress on a growing family is the cost. Depending on the age of the baby, and type of formula used, it can cost hundreds of dollars a month just to feed one child.
One way to remedy the cost is by using a supplemental food program, like Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which can cover some or all of the costs of feeding your baby.
Another way to save money is by utilizing free samples and coupons from formula manufacturers. In addition, buying generic brands of formula, or in bulk from membership stores like Costco or Sam’s Club can ease the financial strain.
- Formula Can Be Harder to Digest
One of the main reasons medical professionals agree that nursing a baby is preferential to bottle feeding, is that not only is breastmilk made up of proteins that are easier to digest, the delivery method makes it easier on baby’s tummy, as well. However, there is a way to bottle feed a baby that may ease some tummy troubles in infants that mimics the delivery method of nursing. This method is known as paced bottle feeding.
Pace feeding involves a few simple strategies to ensure the milk does not flow too rapidly into baby’s stomach: using a wide-based, slow-flow nipple like this one, placing baby in an upright position, letting the baby take in the nipple themselves, holding the bottle parallel to the ground, and taking frequent breaks. This method allows the baby to have more control over how fast he or she takes in milk, which can also be beneficial for those who are switching between bottle and breast.
- Allergies are Hard to Pinpoint
In the event that your baby is having major stomach discomfort or questionable bowel movements, there is a chance they may be allergic to something in the formula they drink. Luckily, there are formulas on the market that have been made to eliminate most common allergens, such as soy formula and hypoallergenic formulas.
Stars & Stripes Doulas always urge parents to consult with their child’s pediatrician for any health concerns that may arise, like a suspected allergy.
On the Bright Side…
5 Things I Love about Formula Feeding
- Responsibility of Feeding Baby is Shared
Dad, grandma, the babysitter, aunts and uncles… these are people who can be taught how to prepare and feed baby a formula bottle. This takes some of the pressure of making sure baby has enough to eat off of mom’s shoulders, and what mom does not need a bit of a break now and then?
- You Can Take your Prescription Medication
While it is true that many types of medication can be taken while breastfeeding, in some cases, moms must err on the side of caution and discontinue their prescriptions (again, always be sure to check with your care provider). Feeding your baby formula means that they are being fed a perfectly acceptable alternative, while moms can continue medication for healing, mental health, seizure disorders, heart conditions, and the list goes on.
- You Know How Much your Baby is Drinking
One thing I loved about alternating pumped breast milk with formula feeding, is knowing exactly how much my baby was taking in. This was crucial in those first few weeks of his life, when he had been losing too much weight. Whether you are strictly formula feeding, or alternating breastfeeding with formula supplementation, sometimes knowing the amount baby is drinking is a must.
- Formula may Ease Mom’s Return to Work
For working mothers, sometimes pumping breastmilk does not work out, or they simply choose to not pump during working hours. Returning to work can be hard enough for new and experienced moms alike, and for those returning or starting to work weeks after baby’s arrival, formula can ease the transition.
- Bonding with Baby
You can bond just as well with formula feeding as you can by breastfeeding. How do I know? Well, for starters I have done both. When I breastfed, I looked lovingly into the eyes of my babies. I cooed and baby talked to them, stroked their hair, enjoyed skin to skin time. When I formula fed, I did the exact same thing. The only difference was the nipple that was in the baby’s mouth. I felt just as close to my babies when I formula fed, as I did when I fed them by breast.
Like breastfeeding, formula feeding has its benefits and drawbacks. Whatever your reason is to formula feed your baby, you do not need to justify it to anyone. Formula feeding, when done correctly, is a perfectly acceptable method of feeding a baby. Here at Stars & Stripes, we are trying to spread a little #MOMCHEER. Parenting is hard enough without the militant propaganda against formula feeding (and the same goes for breastfeeding, as well!). Let’s celebrate and commiserate together, instead of finding ways to divide our parenting experiences, and ourselves.
Written by: Justine Robinson