My baby was six months old before I gave him his first bottle of formula. Yes, I was committed to exclusively breastfeeding, but also: that aisle of the store gave me heart palpitations. Once I had nursing “figured out,” contemplating what type of formula to offer felt like one more thing I had to learn, and I had no desire to take on something new.
However, and this is a dirty secret, but (is the La Leche League listening?) formula feeding is way easier than nursing. Shhhh?..
No pumps! No flanges! No feeling like a cow. No bodily fluids! No mother required.
You can do it wearing a real bra! You can do it in a shirt that doesn’t have buttons! Or elastic. Or hidden flaps.
Husbands can make it. Babysitters can make it. No labor is required of you. It comes premixed!
You can make formula even if you are three sheets to the wind, back-stroking in a river of booze.
Not an ounce of alcohol will reach your tender baby’s lips.
Oh God. I’m so happy I didn’t know how easy formula was when I was nursing full time.
Breastfeeding ladies: do not go down this aisle. Maintain your distrust for factory baby food! For if you realize its ease? Well, it’ll be like a dieter in a bakery. Or a drunk in a bar. Or a nursing mother who imagines her body and time belonging to her like it did back before? Enough! Don’t even daydream about this modern convenience until you’re about done breastfeeding.
I believe my point is made.
Now that the warnings have been given, let’s say you need to give formula. Or, like me, once I started W on solid food (er, ultra mushed up food), I wanted a little more freedom from nursing. (My milk started waning around this time too). You’re not supposed to give (animal or vegetable) milk until 12 months, and water isn’t nutritious, so the only alternative is formula.
Once I decided to buy it, I was overwhelmed. There are many different brands. Does it have to be organic? What’s in it? Does he need “sensitive”? Soy? Regular? What?
Here’s the dirty:
- The powdered kind (you mix it with water) that has a cow’s milk base is the cheapest.
- Some people use bottled water to mix with formula, but in general, tap is fine. Let’s be honest: that’s what everyone got before the advent and ubiquity of water bottles anyway.
- Premixed is easy and takes out any guesswork about measuring (not that it’s so hard to count spoon-fulls) or what water to use. This was my choice. I didn’t want to worry about my water source or about training babysitters or other caregivers on how to mix it, etc. There’s also a (slightly) greater sterility with premixed. The downside is that it’s more expensive, it must be refrigerated, and it spoils within 48 hours of being opened.
- There’s soy if you’re a die-hard vegan or if the baby has an allergy to cow’s milk.
- Sensitive is a version that breaks down proteins to be even easier to digest. I’ve had a few friends whose children had severe reflux or other gastrointestinal issues who used this.
- Premeasured powdered comes in different types (regular, sensitive, etc), but they are wrapped individually so if you go out, you don’t have to carry a tub of formula with you or put it in baggies. (Hmm, white powdered substances in baggies. You’ll have all the moms at the park talking….) Just add water.
- All formula, whether name brand or generic, must meet FDA regulations for nutrition.
- Buy organic if that’s important to you, but most of all, get one that agrees with your baby.
I nursed my baby until he was 7.5 months, and then when he needed a drink, I gave him formula. I was a little bit sad because I intended to nurse for a full year. However, I don’t think he was worse for the wear, and by then he was getting most of his nutrition from actual food (he took to solids like white on rice, as they say).
Q: What was your experience with formula? Does your baby have a favorite type or brand? Any tips?