I’m most definitely not opposed to formula feeding, and I feel that women are sometimes treated in a negative manner because they are not exclusively breastfeeding. They are often left out when it comes to feeding information, as people assume formula feeding is straightforward and needs no instruction. In order to provide every mother with good care, midwives should discuss safe formula feeding with women. The following are a few tips on making feeds correctly, as incorrectly made feeds can be dangerous to your baby.
What is formula milk?
Formula milk is usually made from processed cow’s milk, and is either whey or casein based. These milks are often called “first milks”, as they are most suitable for newborn babies. There is currently no evidence to support the different “hungry baby”, “toddler”, “follow on” and “goodnight” milks, and they should not be given to a newborn.
Some babies have premature-baby milks, or soya milks as prescribed by their doctor. These too should not be given routinely, only when advised by a health practitioner.
Formula milk can come premade in cartons, or in powder form ready to be made into feeds.
What equipment do I need?
Several bottles with covers and teats, with a measurement scale clearly written on the side. Teats come with different flow rates, the standard being 1 drop per second. Premature babies may need a smaller teat, and as babies grow, mothers may change to a faster flow rate teat.
Sterilising equipment - chemical (tablets, liquids), microwave and steam sterilisers are all available, and should be used following the manufacturers instructions.
Teat/bottle brushes for cleaning excess milk off before sterilising.
Sterilisable tongs or tweezers - this allows you to move the bottles and teats without touching them directly and re-contaminating them.
Plastic scoop that comes with formula tins for measuring powder.
A means of safely boiling water e.g. kettle.
What is the right way to prepare a feed?
Fill your kettle with fresh cold water and boil. Leave to cool for a maximum of 30 minutes.
Clean and disinfect your hands and the area you will be working on.
Stand the bottle on the clean surface, but leave the teat and cover in the steriliser until later.
Fill the bottle with the right amount of cooled boiled water. Water mustalwaysgo in first, to make sure the concentration of formula to water is correct.
Add the correct amount of formula according to the manufacturers instructions. Scoops should be levelled off before adding to the water, and should not be tightly packed. Only use the scoop provided for that tin, as different manufacturers use different scoop sizes.
Screw on the teat, only handling the bottom edge to prevent contamination. Secure with the teat ring.
Cover the teat and gently shake the bottle to mix the formula.
Hold the bottle under cold running water to cool the feed, ensuring not to get the teat or teat cover wet.
Test the milk temperature on the inside of your wrist - it should be warm or cool, never hot.
Use the feed immediately and dispose of after one hour.
What can go wrong?
Equipment that has not been properly sterilised or has been recontaminated can make your baby ill, and should not be used.
Feeds should be made upas and when they are needed.Feeds that are premade and stored are a breeding ground for bacteria. An unfinished feed can be stored for one hour before it needs to be disposed. Cartons/bottles of premade milk can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours, as long as the baby has not fed directly from the carton/bottle it is stored in.
Do not add extra powder, this can make your baby dehydrated or constipated.
Never use a microwave to heat the milk, this can cause hotspots that may burn your baby’s mouth.
Where can I read more?