Formula Feeding

Formula – that magic baby-grow powder that is, these days, considered inferior to boob-juice (aka breastmilk). I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of how we ended up formula feeding in this post – check out my upcoming post on Breastfeeding for that story.

Here, I want to talk about how to formula feed. There is a lot of information on the interwebs about how to do this properly, and it can vary from source to source. We found it very confusing in the beginning, and never really found all the answers; instead, we found compromises that worked. I’ll do my best to outline the information we found, as well as what we’ve done that has (or hasn’t) worked.

Choosing Formula

There are a lot of options out there, and each one claims to be the best, or closest to breastmilk. From what I’ve read, all infant formulas in Canada have to have the same base ingredients (I tried to find a direct source for this, but could only find comments from parents in various forums). Companies have started adding other components, such as DHA, ARA, Omega-3 and Omega-6 (fatty acids), as these are believed to aid in brain development. So you may want to choose a formula that has some, or all, of these added benefits.

Store brand formulas will offer the required nutrition without those added benefits, but will be much more affordable than name brand.

We had acquired samples and coupons for all of the major name brand formulas during my pregnancy, so we had Enfamil, Similac and Nestle GoodStart on hand when we first started formula with Olly. He didn’t seem to notice a difference between any of them.

Once our samples ran out, we started looking at cheaper options. We tried Kirkland (Costco) first. It worked fine, but Olly started to get constipated so we switched to Parent’s Choice (Walmart). That didn’t seem to make a difference. Now, it may not have been the formula that was causing the constipation – it could have just been a natural part of his digestive system figuring itself out. Later on, we switched to President’s Choice Probiotic (Loblaws, No Frills, Shoppers Drugmart), and we’ve been using that for about four months now.

We used primarily powdered formula that needed to be mixed with water before feeding. We did have some sample ready-to-feed (liquid) formula, and that was great, but far too expensive to buy on a regular basis. We have never tried condensed liquid formula.

Some babies can be really picky about formula, while others, like Olly, don’t seem to have a preference.

This becomes a whole other ball game if your baby has a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. Visit the following sites for more information on these issues, and be sure to talk to your doctor:

Now, this wouldn’t be a proper parenting blog without a discussion about cost, so here’s a handy price comparison chart:

Preparing Formula

This is where we found the most conflicting information. The formula packaging gave us one set of instructions, while online sources gave us another, and friends and family gave us a whole other set of instructions.

Sources said: Water must be sterilized and cooled before being mixed with formula OR It is no longer necessary to sterilize water, as most drinking sources in Canada are clean.

What We Did: In the beginning, we sterilized all water, refrigerated, and discarded after 24 hours. Now, we’re sterilizing water and refrigerating, but using it even after 24 hours. We’re considering no longer sterilizing, as Olly is 8 months old and healthy.

Sources Said: Once powdered formula is mixed with water, it must be consumed immediately OR powdered formula can be mixed with water and refrigerated for up to 24 hours

What We Did: We followed the “mix immediately before feeding” rule at first, but it was so impractical. We started pre-mixing formula at the beginning of every day, and life got so much easier.

Sources Said: Once infant has begun to drink from a bottle, discard after 1 or 2 hours; do not re-refrigerate formula that has been heated.

What We Did: We followed the 1-2 hour rule at first, but ended up wasting so much formula. We slowly began to stretch that time limit. Today, at 8 months old, Olly will drink from the same bottle over the course of six hours, as long as the bottle remains at room temperature.

Sources Said: Do not use a microwave to heat infant formula – it will create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth

What We Did: We purchased a bottle warmer, and sometimes use a large mug filled with hot water to heat bottles.

Sources Said: Do not freeze infant formula – harmful bacteria can grow once it reaches a certain temperature

What We Did: We have followed this rule.

Cleaning Bottles

This is my least favourite part of bottle feeding. When our midwife first outlined everything that had to be done to ensure the bottles were cleaned properly, Alex and I looked at each other in shock, thinking, “How the heck are we going to find the time to do this?”

Bottles and nipples must be boiled before their first use. We ended up steam sterilizing everything instead. We bought a microwave sterilizer and it was a life saver.

As for cleaning after they’ve been used, bottles should be washed in hot, soapy water, and then sterilized again. Sterilization should be done until your baby is 3 months old. I fondly remember the day we stopped sterilizing.

Helpful Tools 

As I’ve mentioned above, we purchased a few items to make things easier, quicker and more convenient. Because if you’re formula feeding, you’ll soon find that everything it involves can take up your entire day, if you’re not smart about it!

Munchkin Microwave Sterilizer

Skip the lengthy task of boiling bottles and nipples on the stove and get your sterilizing done within minutes in the microwave.

Munchkin Sprout Drying Rack

The perfect design to allow airflow for faster drying of bottles and nipples.

Munchkin Latch Bottle and Valve Brush Set

I’ve found that this brush works best for bottle nipples.

Munchkin Bristle Bottle Brush

I prefer this brush for washing bottles.

Munchkin Speed Bottle Warmer

Warms bottles in 90 seconds to 2 minutes!

Munchkin Formula Dispenser

If you’re going with the prepare-immediately-before-feeding method, this can make things easier for you when you’re on the go.

Prince Lionheart Versa Formula Mixer

This saved my life. No more shaking bottles until your arm falls off, and no more powder clumps in the bottle. Just quick and easy formula preparation.

Prince Lionheart On-the-Go Bottle Warmer

Olly once went on a hunger strike while we were at the mall because I couldn’t get his bottle to his preferred temperature. Now, we take this everywhere with us and avoid starvation.

Mabel’s Labels Write Away! Labels

In the early days, I used these labels to identify what time a bottle had been made, and what vitamins we had included in it. These were the only labels I could find that were waterproof and wouldn’t leave a sticky residue after being removed. Easy-on, easy-off!

Munchkin Smart Blend
I just bought this a few days ago and it has changed my life! This awesome tool allows me to mix 24oz (720ml) of formula in one shot, which can then be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. This takes care of most of Olly’s formula for the day, so when he’s hungry, all I have to do is pour and warm. THANK GOODNESS. 


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