If you are new to formula-feeding, it can all feel a bit overwhelming at first. You probably have several questions. Which bottle should I choose? Which type of formula does my baby need and how much should they be eating? What other supplies should I have on hand?
Here is a list of formula feeding must-haves.
The right formula
A no brainer, right? But it might take a little time and patience to figure out which formula works the best with your baby’s digestive system, and there are a wide variety of formulas on the market. Your doctor can help you determine which one to start with and then you can make adjustments if needed.
Keep in mind, you can typically get free formula samples directly from the company or your doctor’s office. This allows you to try them out for a little while before you choose which one to buy in bulk.
The right bottle
With so many choices on the market, finding the right bottle can be overwhelming as well. So which bottle is the right one? Oftentimes it comes down to trial and error. But at a minimum, you want to find one that your baby is content to eat from and at the same time is easy to clean.
Some babies tend to prefer a bottle that has a wider nipple (more like the natural shape of a breast), and others prefer to eat from a smaller nipple. If you are switching back and forth between breastfeeding and formula-feeding, that can make an impact on which type of nipple your baby will prefer.
Unless your baby has a need for a more complex bottle (bottles designed specifically to help baby with gas issues, for example), choose the simplest bottle possible. That will save you a lot of cleaning time. Once you find a bottle that seems to work well for both you and baby, stock up. Especially during the early months, you will be going through several bottles a day and finding time to wash them throughout the day can be a challenge.
An age-appropriate nipple
Using a nipple with the appropriate flow speed will lead you to greater success when formula feeding. Nipples are typically labeled with either a numbering system (1, 2, 3, 4) or a speed (slow, medium, fast).
With a newborn, you want to start with the slowest flowing nipple and then as they grow and eat more ounces at each feeding, you can swap out to a higher flow. If you start with a flow that is too high, your baby will be more likely to suck down too much milk at a time. As your baby grows and is eating more, using a faster flowing nipple will help speed up feeding times.
This is an essential cleaning item when it comes to formula feeding. I would recommend finding a bottle brush that also has an attachment for cleaning inside nipples.
Bottle drying rack
A drying rack will allow your bottles to dry quicker by allowing excess water to drain out. Having a place to dry bottles will also help keep your bottles organized and your counter less cluttered.
These bags come in handy when you want to sterilize nipples. You just pour in the recommended amount of water and pop it into the microwave for a few minutes. (This also works great for sterilizing pacifiers).
A must-have product for feeding on the go! A formula dispenser is a small container that can hold pre-measured amounts of formula. You can easily stash this in your diaper bag or a larger purse. This is a less expensive way to feed your baby on the go.
Most name-brand formulas sell single use packets of formula or small pre-mixed formula bottles, but those can be pretty pricey.
There are also some formula feeding items that you don’t necessarily need. You can skip these if you want to save some cash!
Unless your baby has a specific need for a more complex bottle, keep it simple! The more parts the bottles have, the more time you are going to have to spend washing them.
I invested in a bottle warmer early on, but found it just collected dust on my counter. I didn’t use a lot of pre-mixed formula so it really wasn’t necessary to warm up anything.
Tap or bottled water is fine to use when preparing formula. If you have any concerns about your home drinking water, talk to your water provider and have it tested.
A dishwasher caddy holds the small parts of the bottle so they don’t get lost in the dishwasher. But I found that I needed the bottles before I ever got around to filling/running the dishwasher. I usually ended up just washing them by hand, so the dishwasher caddy was unnecessary.
I wanted to end this article with a few formula feeding-on-the-go tips.
- Get your baby used to drinking room-temperature or colder water. This makes feeding on the go so much easier because you won’t need to worry about heating up anything.
- Pack pre-filled bottles. Prefilling your bottles with safe, clean water before you leave the house guarantees you will have water to make a bottle whenever you need to. Even if you plan to be at a location with easily accessible drinking water, sometimes plans change. Your baby might need to eat earlier or later than you had planned.
- Always pack more formula than you think you will need. You might be gone from the house longer than expected, or a bottle accidentally gets spilled…you just never know. So just be sure to always be prepared by throwing an extra serving or two in your formula dispenser.
I hope this must-have list and tips for feeding-on-the-go will help you find formula-feeding success. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions as they come up, and you will get into a groove in no time! Good luck!