Making the decision to switch from breast to bottle feeding can be an emotional and difficult experience for new mums, with very little information and resources available.
As well as managing the physical changes taking place, perceived external judgment and confusion over where to start, the prevalent concerns for most mums about to commence formula feeding is whether their bonding experience will be impacted and if their baby’s health with be compromised.
The short answer to both concerns: providing you follow a few simple steps, neither need be an issue.
According to infant health expert Dr Pamela Douglas, for both bonding and good health, once you decide to use formula, it’s best to mimic as much of the ‘breastfeeding package’ as possible.
This includes ‘demand feeding’.
Just because you’re bottle feeding, that doesn’t mean you have to adhere to any forced routines.
Forget about the clock and feed your baby as you would if you were breastfeeding, responding to his or her cues.
Pause frequently, interact, cuddle and make eye-contact with your baby and continue to enjoy skin-to-skin time where possible.
“Don’t try to finish the bottle once the baby signals that he or she has had enough,” says Dr Douglas.
“It is protective to make feed-times as pleasurable and relaxed as you can, giving the baby time to register satiety.”
Formula is the next best thing to breastmilk and you can rest assured your baby will be receiving the nutrients she requires for positive health and development.
Opt for a ‘gold’ formula if you can as these contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which occur in high concentration in breastmilk and are incorporated into nervous and brain tissues.
It’s important to prepare formula as it states on the can, without adding more powder or more water unless medically advised to do so.
Sterilise bottles before use and always use cooled, boiled water.
Once mixed, formula should be consumed or refrigerated within half an hour, or otherwise discarded.
Mixed formula can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours.
The most important thing to remember is that regardless of the method, feeding your baby is a time of closeness and communication.
So enjoy the experience of bonding with your baby, safe in the knowledge that he’s receiving all the love and nourishment he needs for a happy and healthy childhood.