It’s important to consider during the pregnancy how you want to feed your baby once he or she is born. Our midwives will discuss this choice with you during our consultation hours. If you’ve chosen to feed your baby formula it’s good to already prepare for this during the pregnancy, for example, by buying the formula, bottles, teats beforehand. We will give you more information regarding bottle feeding for babies between 0 and 6 months.
Are you still in doubt about whether you want to breast or bottle feed your baby? Consider the pros and cons of both choices, and find more information here. Discuss your doubts during consultation hours and perhaps we can guide you in making the right decision.
The composition of formula
Standard formula is formula that can be given to babies that are developing normally. The designation is usually Standaard 1, 2, 3, et cetera. Standard formula contains all nutrients for proper growth and development. Most formula is based on cow’s milk. Cow’s milk doesn’t naturally contain all the nutrients a human baby needs. For standard formula, the composition of cow’s milk is changed. Some nutrients are removed from the cow’s milk (like carbohydrates and certain proteins), and some are added to it (such as vitamins D and K, iron and fibers).
In The Netherlands, legislation stipulates what should be in artificial nutrition, so it doesn’t matter what brand you choose or what the product costs. Trying a different brand won’t hurt. If you compare several brands of formula, you’ll see that ingredients still differ per brand. That’s because many of the manufacturers are allowed to add some substances to the formula, next to the ones that are mandatory. These substances too are stipulated by legislation and aren’t bad for your baby, but according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) they don’t add anything to the health of your child either.
Choice of formula
In case some direct family members have suffered from allergies, it’s advisable to start with hypoallergenic formula straight away.
In addition, different types of formulas are available, for example, for hungry babies or for babies with cramps. Usually it’s not necessary to use these kinds of different formulas. The advice is not to use these formulas during the first week after birth. If you get the idea later on that your child may need different kind of formula, please consult with the midwives before you switch.
Recently formula based on goat’s milk has become available. You can find information on the internet, or ask any of the midwives during the consultation hours.
Choice of bottles and teats
You’ll notice that there’s a huge range of types and sizes of bottles. It actually doesn’t matter what bottle you pick, although it’s important that you can see how much there’s left in the bottle. The teat you choose can matter more, as every baby has his or her own preference. Some babies prefer one kind of teat whereas another will eat better from a different kind. Teats also have different sizes of holes, small or large. For big eaters, you’ll want a teat with a small hole, but for slow eaters, you’ll want one with two or three holes. You may find that your baby doesn’t accept all teats, so feel free to try a few.
Formula during the first week after birth
During the first few days after birth, your baby’s stomach and bowels have to get used to the nutrition he or she gets, so it’s good to start with small amounts. In the womb, the baby received nutrition through the umbilical cord and the gastrointestinal system didn’t have to process anything yet, so it’s not used to processing food yet. It’s possible that your baby will be a little nauseated during the first few days after birth. Usually people start with 10 to 20 ml of formula after birth, six to seven times every 24 hours. Every day 10 ml is added, and by the end of the first week, the baby will eat 80 to 90 ml of formula. Depending on the birth weight of your baby this can be more or less, the midwife will guide you in increasing the amount of formula. It will also say on the packaging of the formula how much your baby can eat at his or her weight.
To check if your baby is getting enough nutrition, keep an eye on dirty diapers, whether he or she grows well enough and is satiated. If this is all the case you can safely assume that your baby is getting enough.
Skin to skin contact
Skin to skin contact is often associated with breastfeeding. However, skin to skin contact is important or all babies, also babies who get formula. Don’t underestimate the importance of skin to skin contact with your baby during the first day(s) after birth, as it has proven it eases the baby into breastfeeding and increases the chance that your child will be looking for the breast and will latch on well. But research has also shown that skin to skin contact helps your baby maintain body temperature, and helps stabilize respiratory and blood sugar. In addition, skin to skin contact is also a great for the parents, because the dad can do this too, to make contact with and to build a bond with your child. Even while your child grows older, it’s good to occasionally spend some time with your child through skin to skin contact.
Preparing and storing formula
It’s important to always prepare the bottle in a hygienic way and keep it clean. The midwife will teach you during the first week after birth how to prepare formula. It’s important to heat water first, then add the formula. Always use the scoop provided with the package to measure the formula. Carefully measuring the formula is important so that your baby receives the right amount of nutrients. In case you prepared the bottles of formula beforehand you can store these in the fridge, no longer than 8 hours. When you’ve heated a bottle, never reheat it again. Always throw out left-overs.
In The Netherlands, tap water is safe to use for preparing formula. It’s not necessary to boil it beforehand. However, abroad water isn’t always safe to use. If you doubt the quality of the tap water you can boil it beforehand or use bottled water instead. The bottle will say whether it’s suitable to use for formula.
It’s important to consistently buy the same brand of formula. This way cramps are prevented. On average, babies need three weeks to get used to new formula. When your child appears to suffer from cramps or throws up a lot after a few weeks, never change immediately change formula. It’s possible something else is the cause. Always discuss with your GP before you switch formula. You can find more information about bottle feeding on the website of Voedingscentrum.