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How to Bottle Feed Safely
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants under 12 months of age should be fed either breast milk or infant formula. No other type of milk provides all the nutrients in the right amounts to support optimal growth. Powdered milk companies use human milk as a standard and produce a product, usually based on cow’s milk, that contains proteins, fats and carbohydrates in proportions close to human milk. Then they add vitamins, minerals and other ingredients to bring the final product as close to human milk as possible. As research continues to reveal substances in breast milk that were previously unknown, pharmaceutical companies that make infant formula add it, and advertise the product as “new” or “improved.” Other recent additions are ARA and DHA. Read labels carefully so you know what’s in the brand you’re buying. When choosing an infant formula, it’s usually best to start with a milk-based formula, as this is tolerated by most babies and is cheaper than specialty formula. If your baby is allergic to infant formula, talk to your pediatrician about which one to try next. Although soy-based formulas contain all the nutrients needed to maintain growth, they also contain phytoestrogens that can affect the growth and development of the child, and prevent the absorption of zinc and calcium. According to the FDA’s paper, the AAP states that “Healthy infants should be given soy formula only when medically necessary.” ([http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/features/596_baby.html]) Special formulas for children with hearing loss and disease are expensive, and should be used on the advice of a pediatrician.
If you’re formula feeding your baby, you’ll need bottles, teats, and a bottle brush for proper cleaning. There are many types and styles of bottles available, and what you choose depends on your preferences.
Disposable bottles are easy to use and easy to clean, but they are more expensive than other types because liters must be purchased every month your baby uses a bottle. Plastic bottles are lightweight, and most are easy to clean with warm, soapy water and a brush. In recent months, news articles have warned about the potential dangers of leaching a chemical called bisphenol A or BPA into milk from plastic when the bottles are heated, and even from the linings of the can the formula enters. Although the FDA says that plastic bottles do not pose a risk to babies, you may want to research different labels to see which ones are considered safe before buying bottles for your baby. A Google search produced a list of BPA free brands.
Different babies do better with different types of nipples. You should choose those that move slowly at first, especially for a very young baby. If the milk moves too quickly the baby may choke, or have too much wind. Be sure to replace worn nipples so they don’t break during feeding. Sometimes a teething baby may chew on the nipple and cause small particles to come out, so check it regularly.
Preparation of the formula:
Infant formula comes in three forms: ready-to-feed, formula, and formula. Ready to feed formula is the easiest to use. It can be kept at room temperature until the can is opened, and fed to the baby directly from the can. However, it is expensive compared to other types. Both other forms of powdered milk must be mixed with water before feeding. It is very important to read the instructions on the can to make sure you are adding the correct amount of water so that the milk the baby receives is not too diluted (which can lead to malnutrition) or too concentrated (which can be hard on the baby’s kidneys). Some pediatricians (and the World Health Organization) recommend boiling all water before using it on a baby. Some doctors feel that it is okay to use water straight from the tap as long as it is certified safe to drink. If you’re not sure, ask your pediatrician. Powdered milk is not sterile, and in recent months, reports have warned about the possible contamination of some such formulas with Enterobacter sakazakii, a bacterium that can cause infections at all ages, but newborns (less than one month old) and children born prematurely are at greater risk. The World Health Organization recommends that formula given to these infants is suitable for feeding, or concentrating. If powdered milk is to be used on a newborn baby, it should be prepared with boiling water or heated to boiling, then cooled before feeding to kill bacteria if present. Once prepared, the formula should be refrigerated or kept cold with ice packs until the baby is fed. Throw away any unused milk left in the bottle after feeding, as bacteria multiply quickly in warm milk. Heating baby bottles in the microwave is not recommended because “hot spots” that could burn the baby can occur. If using the microwave, be sure to cover the bottle thoroughly to mix the formula thoroughly. (Never microwave exposed breast milk because that can kill some of the healthy cells that protect the baby from getting sick.)
Feeding the Child:
Feeding time is very important for your baby’s emotional and social well-being. You should always hold your baby in your arms when you give him a bottle, and hold him close. This is the perfect time to talk to your baby, look into his eyes, and watch him smile and interact with you. His head should be raised slightly because many bottle nipples run so fast that they can suffocate a lying baby when they swallow. When feeding a newborn, stop and try to feed each baby or so. As the baby grows, it can eat more without burping. Ask your pediatrician how much formula to feed your baby. Do not force him to finish the bottle if he stops drinking and is full. Most babies know how much they need, and overfeeding can make them gain weight later on. Never lift a bottle because of the risk of suffocation, and never put your baby to sleep with a bottle. Milk that stays on his teeth at night will cause tooth decay.
However your baby is fed, feeding time should be comfortable and enjoyable for both of you.
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