Infant & Mom




Formula feeding

Using the Bottle

Introducing a Cup

Introducing Table Food





Choosing a Formula

All the major manufacturers of infant formula in the United States provide appropriate nutrition for infants to grow on. Formulas are based on either cow's milk protein, soy protein or are specially modified for infants with major digestive problems or medical conditions. Most infants do fine on the cow's milk based formulas; the cow's milk formulas have been modified to be appropriate for human infants. Straight cow's milk is not appropriate. Some infants do better on soy based formulas because of a sensitivity, allergy or potential allergy to cow's milk. Some infants are also sensitive to the lactose or sucrose used in the formula, so consult with the infant's pediatrician if the first formula you choose does not seem to be easily digested by your infant.

There are many specialty formulas available (at a very high cost) for infants with sensitivity to both cow's milk and to soy or with other medical or digestive conditions. If there is a strong family history of food allergy on either side of the family, it is advisable that the baby be fed solely breastmilk for the first six months of life. Research has shown that babies with a family history of allergy who are formula fed or supplemented with formula, have more food allergies than infants who are fed breastmilk alone.

Formulas come in three forms: liquid concentrate, powder and ready-to-feed. Prices vary widely and formula can be very expensive.

Ready-to-feed is usually the most expensive because you are paying for the water and more container. If you do not have a safe source of water, ready-to-feed is the only appropriate choice.

Both liquid concentrate and powder need to be mixed with water before use. Be sure to use very scrupulous sanitation practices and to follow the directions on the can carefully. Infants can run into medical and growth problems from under or over diluting the formula. Liquid concentrate is the most popular form, because all you have to do is mix with an equal amount of water. If you have well-water, or are concerned about the safety of your water, have it tested by your local health department or a reputable lab, before using it to make formula. Bottled water is not necessarily safe either, but recent legislation has improved the labeling of bottled water. Read the label carefully to determine the source of any bottled water you use. Baby bottled water is not necessary and is usually expensive. Liquid concentrate must be kept chilled (between 35 and 40 degrees) after the can is opened and/or it is mixed with water. Check the temperature of your refrigerator. All formula should be discarded twenty-four hours after opening.

Powdered formula can be very convenient, but it can be harder to mix accurately. Powdered formula is particularly appropriate for travel, because it does not have to be kept chilled until water is added. If you are going to be out on a hot day, take along bottles of water and pre-measured portions of formula and make up each bottle as needed. No need to worry about the formula going bad. Discard any unused formula after baby is finished.

You can mix and match forms of formula to meet your needs at the moment, but it is best to stick to one brand of formula. Some infants switch between brands easily, but most do not. Careful sanitation for all bottles, nipples and the kitchen where the formula is prepared is very important. Don't forget to wash your hands before making the formula - human hands are a huge source of bacteria! And never put the nipple in your mouth before or while feeding baby!

All babies need a source of iron in their diet, so choose iron-fortified formula from the start. Some parents are afraid to use iron-fortified formulas because they think that iron will cause intestinal distress. Research shows that this is not the case, all formula fed babies experience these problems. (Pediatrics 66:168-170. 1980)

All babies also need a source of fluoride in their diet. Check with your local water supply to find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If your water is not fluoridated or if you choose to use bottled water, ask your pediatrician for a prescription for fluoride drops. Fluoride is essential for the formation of healthy bones and teeth.