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How to choose formula and bottles for newborn
Are you finding yourself on the struggle bus of how to choose the best formula for your newborn?
Raise your hand and please give me an AMEN because I think all of us mommas have been there.
With all of the different choices, constant marketing, how do you know what formula is right for your baby?
Well, I’m here to help you simplify the process. I can’t really tell you to choose one over the other but I can provide you the answers to common questions in order for you to pick the best formula for your baby.
So how are you going to narrow down your choices of formula and bottles?
These are my tips and tricks to find the best formula for your baby:
- What is formula?
- Different types of formula
- Different forms of formula
- How to actually choose a formula
- Choosing bottles
- How to choose nipples
- FAQs about choosing formula and bottles
So what is formula?
Formula is called so many things. From infant formula, baby formula, formula milk. It all means the same thing. Formula is a fancy and expensive item that provides nutrition to your baby. Most commonly bought in powder form and mix with water. It provides the necessary nutrition for your infant to grow until they can start solid foods.
What are the Different types of formula?
- Cow/Milk based: This is the most common and the most recommended type to use for your baby.
- Soy based: as the name says it. Is made from soybeans and usually recommended by your provider after realizing a cow allergy.
- Special formula: A specialized formula might be hydrolyzed. So what is Hydrolyzed? Pretty much is pre-digested for infants who can’t tolerate milk based formula. So the proteins in it are already predigested. These types of formulas are pretty specific and usually only recommend by your pediatrician. So don’t go and buy this formula unless recommended by your doctor. Sometimes these formulas aren’t easily available and need prescriptions.
What are the different forms of formula?
Because formula types aren’t enough now… Now I’m providing you with the 3 different forms of formula available in the market.
- Powder: This is the type I used for the twins. It is also the most common and the cheapest of the three. It does require water to mix it with.
- Liquid concentrate: This is similar to the powder kind because you need water to mix it with. Another thing to keep in mind is cost. It’s going to be more expensive than powder.
- Ready to use: If we are talking about being simple and ready to go then this is your go-to formula. All you need is a nipple and is ready to feed. This is the kind of formula you will get at the hospital if you formula feeds there. So try it there first to see what you think of it. But remember with convenience comes a price tag. This is the most expensive of the three so keep that in mind.
How to actually choose formula?
There are many ways to choose the best formula for your baby.
However, I’m going to give you some questions to ask yourself and certain individuals to help you narrow down your choices.
Here is what and who you need to be asking:
- Ask your pediatrician: Besides you who knows your baby’s health better than your provider. Ask them and see what they suggest. This is a great way to pick a formula because if your newborn has certain health issues they will know exactly what formula your baby should be on.
- Choose Cow based formula: If you already spoke to your pediatrician and your baby has no health issues then stick to the basics. Start with a formula that’s cow-based such as Similac Advance, Enfamil, or whatever store brand formula that’s cow-based. There are also organic versions if you choose to go that route. The point is to start with a cow-based formula.
- Accessibility: You need to be able to easily find this formula. Whether at your local grocery store or if you’re traveling and find yourself in the middle of nowhere. The point is to make sure that you can buy it easily.
- Cost: This is a big one. Formula is already expensive as it is. But figuring out your budget and how much money can you really spend per container will help you narrow down your choices.
- Look beyond the marketing: Every formula company is trying to push their brand in your face by creating all of these marketing tools. Whether is pretty designs, slogans, etc. Try to look beyond the marketing strategy and focus on what matters the most. Which is the product itself. What are the ingredients? Reviews? Research? What are other mothers saying about that formula? Don’t buy it just because the company is enticing you. Look further.
- Buy store brand: We have a Sams membership and we bought the member’s choice formula and my babies are still here alive and kicking. This goes to show that brands are really just labels. We leave in the 21st century is an age where technology has advanced so much that buying generic is not what it used to be. You’re going to get the same if not sometimes better from buying a store brand formula while also save some dinero.
- Ask friends/family: What better people to ask than your close friends or family members. They know you better than anyone and would be able to give you the truth and honest opinions on what to look for.
The last thing to keep in mind when choosing a formula is to stick with it. Babies’ stomachs are very sensitive and at times they need time to adjust. Try it for at least 2 weeks and pay close attention to your baby’s reactions.
Do keep in mind that baby’s on formula will be gassy and at times be fuzzy.
If you see concerns signs such as blood in their stool, never-ending fussiness, and reflux then call the pediatrician right away.
But don’t make the mistake to switch on your own before consulting with them because you might end up switching them to a formula that will make everything even worse.
Choosing baby bottles
Now that you chose a formula then comes the bottles. This can also be as overwhelming as finding the right formula.
Follow the same guidelines mentioned above and ask the right questions to the right people.
Bottle feeding brands: Questions to ask yourself?
- Ask a pediatrician: Again they know your newborn’s medical history. Therefore they can better advise you. Such as if your baby has reflux they might suggest a specific bottle for reflux babies.
- Ask friends: The same way they can recommend formula they can also discuss the bottles they used.
- Cost: Bottles can also be expensive. Some brands more than others. Look at how much money you’re willing to spend per bottle.
- Convenience/user-friendliness: You need to figure out how easy they are to use. How easy they are to put together and apart. When you’re washing lots of bottles you don’t have time to sit there and disassemble 50 million little parts.
- Long-term goals: How long are you planning to formula feed. Is it temporary while you work on breastfeeding or just strictly formula feeding… The reason behind this is because they are some bottles that are a little better for babies than are breast and bottle feeding.
- Bottle preference: Glass ( expensive, can break easily). Plastic (cheap and lightweight). Disposable liner (easier to clean. The bottle doesn’t come into contact with the milk.
- Bottle shapes: standard, wide, angle. Do you have a preference over the other?
PRO TIP: Babies can be very picky with bottles. Don’t go crazy and spend a ton of money beforehand. Wait and see what your baby likes best.
How to find the bottle brand for you?
If you’re anything like me and have done lots and lots of research my best advice would be to narrow down the research to your top 3 choices.
Once you narrowed down your choices do this:
- Create your baby registry with those three choices in mind.
- Use the bottle samples provided in your baby registry to figure out the best choice for your newborn.
So an example if you like Dr Browns, Philip Avent, and Comotomo then register for those and see if someone buys them.
This is a win-win. You get to test out the bottles before you spend all of your money on a specific brand.
This is a great way to test out the waters before committing. Remember bottles are expensive and some babies can be picky. so before you put all of your eggs in one basket. Try out one specific brand at a time.
Avent baby bottles
All three of my kids used Philips Avent natural baby bottles. I was very lucky that none of my kids had colic or issues with taking a bottle.
This made it very simple and easy. I probably could have used ANY brand and my kids would have cared less.
So if your baby is like my kids then I strongly recommend the Philips Avent Natural baby bottle.
These bottles are great for the mommas who are doing both (breast and formula). So this is why thinking about long-term goals is a MUST.
Why? Because their nipples are very soft and wide helping to give that “natural” effect that you get from breastfeeding.
- They are so freaking easy to clean because they have very few parts and they also have a wide neck
- Easy to hold
- Come in several sizes. There are 4oz, 9oz, and 110z bottles.
PRO TIP: A saving money tip is to go ahead and buy all of the bottles in the largest size. We went ahead and bought our bottles 9oz. As your newborn gets older they will be drinking more and more formula.
Why not make it easier and save some money by buying all of the same sizes, to begin with. In the end, you’re only making the amount of formula that your baby drinks regardless of the size of the bottle.
Choosing nipples for bottles
Nipples are usually silicone or latex. Do think about that beforehand to see if you have a preference.
Also, nipples usually don’t communicate with different bottles so choose the bottle first and then buy the appropriate nipple sizes for those bottles
Different size nipples
Nipple sizes? do you really need more than one size?
Yes if you’re strictly formula feeding. Your baby will need to be upgraded the older and the more efficient they become at taking a bottle.
Once you select a bottle brand then you need to learn about their different size nipples.
Avent bottle nipple size
For example, the Philips Avent Natural baby bottles come in sizes ranging from 0-4 stages… They further break down the numbers by first flow, newborn, slow, medium, and fast flow.
I had a few of each stage so that when I knew my babies were ready to switch I had the right size ready to go.
Do keep in mind that each bottle you buy comes with a nipple. However, don’t assume that it’s the only nipple size you will need or that is the right size for your baby’s current stage.
Meaning you don’t want to feed a newborn with a nipple size 2 when they either need a 0 or 1. I had to switch the nipples on the larger bottles I bought because those came with a nipple size 3 when my babies needed a size 1.
Pay attention to the nipple size before feeding your newborn.
When to change nipple sizes?
- Your baby is taking longer than usual to take a bottle aka more than 30 minutes.
- Your baby is sucking really hard and fast but the formula is not coming out fast enough (this happened to me).
- If your baby is spitting a lot of milk and/or a lot of milk is coming out of the bottle then you might need to go back to the lower nipple stage.
FAQs about choosing formula for your newborn
How do I know if the formula I chose is right for my baby?
is your baby content after feeding, not extremely fussy because remember some formula fed babies can be fussy and gassy. Is baby not spitting up a lot? These are some of the questions to ask yourself in order to know if the formula you chose is right for your newborn.
Do newborns need special formula?
YES and NO.
If your baby is a healthy newborn then you don’t need special formula. Pick a formula based on the questions I mentioned earlier.
If your baby has medical issues then your newborn might need special formula but you should discuss that with your pediatrician. DO NOT make a “special” formula selection without consulting with them first.
Can you use different formulas in newborns?
This is another YES and NO
YES there is nothing stopping you from using different formulas.
However, a newborn’s stomach is very sensitive and you shouldn’t be switching a formula just to switch without figuring out if that formula was actually good or not for your baby.
Ask yourself: is my baby tolerating this formula, how long has he/she been on it, spitting up, blood in the stool, consulted with the pediatrician?
Can you mix different brands of the same formula?
This is to go deeper in the question above. Yes you can. I know is confusing.
If you have two different formula brands that have the same ingredients then you can mix them together. For example, mixing Similac advance with the store brand formula that matches it.
Can I use different bottles for my baby?
Yes. If you want to use different bottles and brands then go ahead. It might be more work with cleaning and keeping parts but you can definitely do it.
The only person that might stop you from using a bottle is your baby. Babies can be picky. so keep that in mind. Before you waste all of your money.
How often should nipples be replaced?
It all depends on wear and tear. Inspect your nipples and see if the wholes are getting bigger, cracks, etc. There is no specific rule of thumb of how often. A good idea will be to have a couple of extra nipples just in case.
What size bottles do babies need?
This is all preference. Each bottle brand comes in different sizes. Newborns usually don’t drink more than 4 ounces so you could buy the 4-ounce bottles or to save money just go ahead and buy the bigger bottles. Is really up to you.
Final words on how to choose infant formula
With so many different choices out there it can get pretty overwhelming. Take a deep breath and at the end of the day follow your gut feeling.
Momma always knows best.
If all things failed I hope that this post will help you narrow down some choices and help you find the best formula and bottles for your little human.
Let me know in the comments about the formula and bottles you use.
Baby formula related articles:
How to choose the best newborn formula and bottles
I’m B the creator of Twins Made Easy. I’m an RN BSN MNN, wife, and mother to three kids (including boy/girl twins). Sharing and helping you survive twin life and more one coffee at a time. Read more
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