The Ultimate Guide to Feeding Your Baby Formula, the Natural Way
Is your mind swirling with questions as you try to get your newborn situated in an optimal feeding schedule? While giving a baby a bottle every couple of hours may seem simple enough, the truth is, there’s actually a steep learning curve involved with your new around-the-clock feeding commitment. Whether you’re formula-feeding exclusively or you’re supplementing with breastmilk, we’ve put together your one-stop guide for feeding your baby formula.
In this post, we’ll look at which formulas you should feed your baby, including the best organic products and what harmful ingredients to watch out for. Plus, we’ll discuss the best practices for bottle feeding and getting your baby on a good feeding schedule.
Every Baby Is Different
If you feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants to figure out your baby’s feeding schedule, it’s because every baby is different. There is no set formula to which every baby will respond the same.
For example, the first formula you feed your baby might cause gas. The second or third may work to finally alleviate your baby’s gas. There’s some trial and error involved. The more you know before you shake up that first bottle of formula, the faster you can adapt and get over the learning curve.
Formula Feeding Your Baby
The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced and continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.
However, it’s not always possible for mothers to breastfeed for this length of time and formula can be a perfectly healthy choice for your baby when you choose a high-quality, organic formula that is naturally-derived and free of toxins. Here we’ll dive into some of the most common questions that come up about formula feeding.
How Much Formula Should I Feed My Baby and How Often?
Here’s a look at how much infants need per age group:
- Newborns from birth to 2 weeks old need 1 to 2 ounces of milk every 2 to 3 hours.
- Infants from 2 weeks old to 2 months old need 2 to 5 ounces every 3 to 4 hours, with the amount of intake increasing rapidly in this short time frame.
- Infants from 2 to 4 months old need about 4 to 6 ounces of milk at each feeding, and the feedings are 3 or more hours apart.
- Infants 4 months to 6 months old typically drink 5 to 8 ounces of formula every 4 or 5 hours.
What are My Baby’s Hunger Signs?
You’ll get to know your baby’s signs when she’s ready for another bottle, but here are the most common signs a baby shows when hungry:
- Opening her mouth
- Smacking her lips or sucking on her lips
- Nibbling on her hand, clothing, someone else’s hand or an object
Scheduled Feedings vs. Paced Bottle Feeding
You’ll need to decide early on in your baby’s course of formula feeding whether you’ll stick to feeding on a set schedule or if you’ll pick up on your baby’s cues to inform her feeding schedule.
Scheduled feeding involves setting scheduled feeding times at a set number of hours apart. These times could be scheduled in a way that matches your baby’s natural schedule, it could be standardized for her age, and to some extend, it can be worked around according to the demands of your schedule.
Benefits of Scheduled Feedings
By feeding your baby on the same schedule every day, her body gets on a well-regulated, consistent sleep schedule for both napping and sleeping at night. It also makes it easier for parents, other relatives and childcare providers to switch off and continue with the baby’s schedule from where the previous caregiver left off.
Paced Bottle Feeding
Paced bottle feeding, on the other hand, involves following your baby’s pace by looking out for her cues and feeding her accordingly. It may be more ideal for babies under the care of one parent or guardian, who has more time to learn the baby’s feeding schedule. It’s harder to plan around your baby’s feeding schedule when you have to rely on guesswork to determine when it will be. However, it’s worthwhile for some parents, who believe their baby’s body is self-regulating and that her own hunger cues are the best indicators for feeding times.
Burping Your Baby
Babies won’t always burp after a feeding, but it’s important to burp them after each one to reduce gas. Babies easily swallow air when drinking milk and when crying. Getting the gas out as soon as possible is the best way to prevent a painful buildup of gas bubbles after meals, which often causes fussiness and crying, and it interferes with sleep.
How to Burp Your Baby
When your baby shows she’s done eating from the bottle, try burping her right away. Here are the best practices and our secret techniques to burping your baby properly:
Over-the-Shoulder Burping Hold
- With your baby facing you, hold her up against your chest, supporting her bottom in one hand and her back in the other.
- Let her chin rest atop your shoulder so that she can breathe and still have head support.
- Softly pat her back until you hear a burp, or stop after about 30 pats if there’s no burp.
Lap Burping Hold
- Sit your baby upright on your lap as you sit in a chair. Lean her torso forward and support her chin with one hand, gripping her head gently around the jaws.
- Use your other hand to gently pat her on the back.
Up and Down Bouncing
- If your baby doesn’t respond to patting, try up and down bouncing, especially if she’s kicking her legs or showing other gas symptoms after a meal.
- Hold your baby on your lap in the same position as in the lap burping hold described above. Gently make small bounces with the leg your baby is sitting on so that she vibrates up and down just slightly. Do this for about a minute or so if your baby is comfortable with it. This tends to cause gas to rise to the top and send a burp out on its way.
What Formula Should I Feed My Baby?
How should you go about choosing a good infant formula brand? You want your selection to be:
- Naturally-derived – You want the source of your baby’s formula to be as natural as possible. For example, all-natural dairy-based infant formula is made from grass-fed cows raised with organic farming methods.
- Sweetened with lactose – Lactose is the same sugar carbohydrate that makes breastmilk sweet, and it’s found in cow’s milk, too. Most infant formulas are sweetened with sugar or a synthetic sweetener like maltodextrin, because lactose is more expensive. However, formulas made with lactose and no other added sweeteners are the best choice for your baby’s palate and her health.
- Free of synthetic ingredients – Toxic preservatives, colorants or synthetic sweeteners, which are chemical-based and may overwhelm an infant’s liver or be difficult to process.
- Certified organic – Avoid the added pesticides in conventional baby formulas to reduce the risk of health problems that arise from pesticide exposure, such as cancer, endometriosis, anxiety, ADHD and more.
- Soy-free – Soy-derived formulas have been linked to hormone irregularities and dysfunction in babies.
- Containing probiotics and/or live enzymes – Probiotics and enzymes help your baby’s tiny digestive system extract more nutrients from the formula. Breast milk contains living probiotics and enzymes, which is part of what makes it so nutritious. Organic infant formulas that include these elements are best.
What Ingredients Should I Avoid In Baby Formula?
Always read the ingredient list before you buy an infant formula. For your convenience, here’s a list of ingredients that you can compare it to, which can be found in baby formulas:
- Corn syrup
- Glucose syrup
- Soy oil
- Palm oil
- Ascorbyl palmitate
Tips for Non-Toxic, All-Natural Formula Feeding
Let this guide can serve as your reference when you’re shopping for the right baby formula or getting started with a feeding schedule for your newborn. Of course, you can also use your child’s pediatrician as a resource. Remember, every baby is different, so every baby’s feeding schedule may look different. However, if you’re unsure whether your baby is showing enough growth or wetting enough diapers, be sure to see her pediatrician.
- Looking for a safe and non-toxic baby bottle? Browse our selection of tot tested baby bottles to get you started.
- Getting ready to start your baby on solids? If the thought of pureeing a dozen different foods for your baby makes you want to cry into your blender, why not skip it and offer finger foods right away? Here’s everything you need to know about baby-led weaning…