Helpful information for the formula feeding mom.

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This may be controversial, but I am a formula feeding mom. I gave breast feeding the college shot, and we made it 3 months, almost to the date, before A dropped all of her breast feeds in favor of formula. It was the best decision for our family and we feel good about our decision to add formula in the first place. Sure, I had a bit of guilt and struggled with the decision for a small amount of time, but at the end of the day, A is thriving and happy and this has worked out beautifully for us.

I wanted to sit down and write some of my experience and things I’ve learned as a formula feeding mommy for other parents that are or will be feeding their baby formula (whether exclusively or combo feeding). This is all just my own experience. I’m aware of the benefits on both sides and have nothing bad to say about formula or breastfeeding. This is not an opinion piece about what I think is best because that will vary per family. This is more about helpful information for parents that use formula in some way for the feeding of their baby.

This helpful information for the formula feeding mom is awesome- there is so little information out there about formula feeding and it's nice to have a reference for those that do. Click on the photo to read more...

On all of the feelings associated with formula feeding: I want to get this out the way first: The reason that you are formula feeding your baby really does not matter. It’s no one’s business but your own. At the end of the day, you are feeding your child and that is all that matters. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for how you feed your child.

I was going to launch into this whole diatribe about the guilt that I felt when we started adding formula and when A eventually denied the boob altogether, but it doesn’t matter because your baby is getting fed. That’s really all there is to it; it’s really that simple. You are feeding your baby and anyone who gives you a hard time can go to hell. You are an excellent Mama no matter how you’re feeding you baby and I applaud you.

On choosing a bottle: A didn’t go for the first bottle we gave her. Each baby is different in terms of which bottle they’ll take. I strongly encourage you to register for individual bottles instead of sets just in case your baby denies a few. We ultimately ended up with Playtex Ventaire Bottles after trying a few other brands. The upside is that these are supposed to help with Colic, though I couldn’t tell if they actually did or if the reflux meds took care of that. The downside is they have multiple parts (which aren’t horrible, but not as simple as the ones that are only a cover and a base). I also had to start with a medium flow nipple upon a recommendation from a friend. A was just not a fan of slow flow. Once I made this change, we had a much easier transition into bottles. I have not yet moved to fast flow as A seems happy with medium flow.

On bottle feeding: This really isn’t rocket science, but I received two big pieces of advice. The first is to make sure the nipple stays full so as not to let additional air in and create gas. The other is to try and keep the baby at least somewhat upright as the baby has a better chance of getting an ear infection if they’re feed lying flat. Additionally, though this should go without saying, try and keep a close eye on the baby as they feed to make sure they don’t choke.

It’s also my understanding that formula babies spit up more often than breastfed babies. I really have no frame of reference for this since A was a reflux baby and after she got onto the Zantac boat was quite the happy spitter. We really went out of our way to give A a good burp after each day feed to try and reduce this. I’m not really sure it helped, but I’m pretty sure that I spent 6 months of my life smelling like vomit (and possibly still do, though recently A has been spitting up much less, which is a nice change).

On mixing formula: I always put the water in first and then add the formula as per the directions (I’ve only ever dealt with powder, so I can’t speak for other types) and make sure to give it a good shake. In hindsight, I wish I had just given A room temperature water, she prefers it warm which can be a challenge if we’re out and about. It’s not as much of a pain now that she’s older and we use tap water (the tap water where we live isn’t too bad- I know some places are). But the first 3 months I used filtered water as per a few recommendations. In retrospect, I probably could have used tap water then as well, but I’m not a pediatrician- maybe consult them for the best advice.

On a side note, in the early days I kept a jug of filtered water at room temperature. To warm it I would use a larger-than-average mug and fill it with water from the smallest setting on my Keurig. I’d then put the prepared bottle into that to warm since you can’t use the microwave. It was way easier than boiling water and kept us from having to add yet another baby contraption to our already over sized collection. I know a gal who’s son is down with room temperature bottles who kept everything next to her bed for late night feeds- we started doing this once we switched to tap water.

On choosing a formula: This is another situation that I would encourage you to speak with your Doctor. We began with Enfamil Gentlease which we chose to help with the gassiness and eventually switched over to the Wegmans generic version of the Gentlease because the prices were gouging us. That is what worked for us, but talk to your doctor.

On when and how much to feed: As per the directions of our pediatrician, we started adding a 2oz. bottle into the mix after feeds and added larger amount based on A’s signals. At a little over 7 months old A is just beginning to take 7-8oz. bottles. But every baby is different. I’ve heard that formula fed babies eat less and may have longer amounts of time between bottles- I can’t confirm or deny either of these things as I have no basis for comparison and A was all over the place in terms of when she fed (though it eventually evened out to every 3-4 hours). This is yet another situation where I encourage you to talk to your doctor.

On combo feeding: If this is the way you choose to go, more power to you. It’s hard and you really need to be on top of things, but it can be done. I tried to combo feed for a bit. It didn’t work out very well for me. I think a large part of the reason for that is I was very laissez faire about the whole thing. I especially failed at pumping after I gave A bottles. In my defense, I really hated pumping and felt like I didn’t get much out when I did. As a result, my supply tanked, my period came back and A became increasingly unsatisfied with her boob feedings and wanted the bottle more and more. This led up to her ultimately dropping the boob altogether around 3 months. I was a little sad but it was what it was. If I could do it all over again, I would make a point to be more on top of it all making sure to do everything in my power to keep that supply up. I was clearly too easy going and it caused my supply to drop quickly.

On the cost of things:  It is no secret that formula is expensive. Even with the coupons the name brand was killing our wallets. To be honest, even now with the generic it still gouges us, but it’s definitely better. My only advice would be to try and start on a generic if your baby will tolerate it. I have family members that have had success with the Costco generic and we’ve had a great experience with Wegmans generic.

On the logistics: There are a few logistical things that we’ve figured out along the way to make our lives easier. We always try to have an extra container of formula in the cupboard. Not only because we always seem to run out of formula at the most inopportune times, but we also receive the heads up from the daycare that A needs more formula at the end of the most stressful work days when the last thing we want to do is stop at the store (I strive to only have to hit the grocery store once a week if I can).

I learned really early that we don’t like those formula containers they sell, that portion out the formula. they were kind of a pain in the butt and I could never seem to get all of the powder out. I purchased a package of Sistema Klip It containers that are small and have handles that snap into the top to make them air-tight. We then take old scoops from empty formula containers and wash those so that we have a few in rotation. We always have at least 1 or more bottles and at least a small container for formula in the diaper bag.

For outings that will have us away from home for longer periods (like a holiday or a day trip out of town, we generally bring the whole container of formula and several bottles, just in case.

This is all I’ve got so far. As I think of more and learn more, I’ll likely update this. I hope to find someone who has been breastfeeding for a bit to put together a similar post with helpful information for all of you amazing breastfeeding mommies.

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  • Reply
    Sarah @ The Life of This Mother
    February 5, 2015 at 1:27 am Jessy, I really appreciate this post and think it's great you're writing on this. I too have formula fed both my babies - combo feeding until 6 months with my first and almost exclusively from the start with my second. It has been perfectly right for our family. My second turned out to have a milk allergy, and probably wouldn't have discovered that if I had been breastfeeding {and would've been more complicated to help}. I'm a fan of both, but it's nice hearing women who formula feed offer help and solutions. Coming via Women With Intention :)
    • Reply
      February 5, 2015 at 9:01 am Thank you for the kind words and I'm glad you liked it. I was a little nervous to post it because some people have really strong opinions against formula feeding. I don't ever want my blog to be a negative place- I'm behind any woman who is feeding her baby regardless of how. I had such a huge learning curve with formula feeding (and of course breast feeding for the short period that I did it) and I wanted to pass on what I've learned. I'm glad to hear that things worked out well for your family. :)
  • Reply
    February 7, 2015 at 3:14 am Thanks for this! All 4 of my kids are formula fed. My two oldest I tried to breastfeed and failed. When I had the last two I chose to bottle feed. It was a way better experience to skip over the guilt and feelings of failure when you already have a ton of emotions and hormones raging through you! We were all much happier and whats wrong with that? And even though I'm currently bottle feeding my 4th baby I still get comments about it. I don't really get it. I appreciate your post about supporting it. We definitely need more of this out there. And yes the cost kills us! I always do a little dance when we don't have to buy it anymore!
    • Reply
      February 19, 2015 at 12:29 pm Good for you for doing what's best- it sounds like things are working out beautifully and that's really all that matters as happy healthy kids. I'm all for women being more supportive of each other. Thanks for stopping by!
  • Reply
    February 7, 2015 at 3:15 am Thanks for this! All 4 of my kids are formula fed. My two oldest I tried to breastfeed and failed. When I had the last two I chose to bottle feed. It was a way better experience to skip over the guilt and feelings of failure when you already have a ton of emotions and hormones raging through you! We were all much happier and whats wrong with that? And even though I'm currently bottle feeding my 4th baby I still get comments about it. I don't really get it. I appreciate your post about supporting it. We definitely need more of this out there. And yes the cost kills us! I always do a little dance when we don't have to buy it anymore!
    • Reply
      February 7, 2015 at 9:39 am Good for you for doing what's best for your family and I'm sorry to hear that people are giving you a hard time. I just really wanted to get some info out there for mom's on the path our families are on, because it was a huge learning curve for me and I had a harder time finding info on this type of feeding when I was starting. I was really lucky to have a ton of support but it kills me to hear that other people did/do not. Having a new baby is an amazing but incredibly difficult time no matter how you slice it. It's horrifying to me that other people could do and say things to new parents that only make things worse or harder in this transition. Keep your head up through the ignorance and keep doing the what's best for your family :)
  • Reply
    Michelle Westbrook
    February 9, 2015 at 11:34 am Stopping by from the #ffOneThing link up :) I am not a mom, but I know many women who weren't able to breast-feed even a day for various reasons. I agree with you 100%. You are feeding your child and that is the top priority. No one should feel bad about not being able to (or even not wanting to) breast feed.
    • Reply
      February 9, 2015 at 11:56 am Thank you for the kind words- I'm with you. I'm all for babies being fed no matter how it occurs :)
  • Reply
    Maria Hass
    February 10, 2015 at 2:40 pm Thank you! I hate when people want to argue with me on this. I resented it then, I resent it now - there's no reason to make another mom feel guilty for how she chooses to take care of her children - they are taken care of! That's what matters! My three kids were all formula fed, and I was also berated with guilt because I couldn't nurse them. Then I said "Screw it! I'm still a good mom!" and forgot all that. But seriously, your advice is practical. Now that my kids are ages 5-8 I'm like, "Yes, I formula fed. No, I did not nurse them until they were two years old. Yes, they are fine and healthy - as you can see. Got a problem with that?" Stopping by from the #ffonething Link-up.
    • Reply
      February 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm I agree with you 100% and I'm sorry that people gave you a hard time. It sounds like it all worked out, and I'm glad to hear it. You fed your kids- this in and of itself makes you ( and every other mom who feeds her kids) an excellent mom. My hanks for stopping by :)
  • Reply
    February 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm This is a great post! It sometimes stresses me out that if we decide to use formula in the future I don't even know the first thing about it. I agree 150% that someone's reasons for how they feed are no one's business. I get irritated that my BFing friends will talk down about formula and expect me to agree with them - just because I am BFing now doesn't automatically make me a judgmental asshole. I could go on and on but I won't. For now :).
    • Reply
      February 10, 2015 at 8:44 pm Thank you! Don't stress- it's a bit of a learning curve, but a quick one. People always need to find something to hate and it's sad. Good for you for being better than that, it says a lot about your character. I'm glad breastfeeding is working wel for you and your handsome little man! :)
  • Reply
    Jenny @ Women With Intention
    February 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm With 5 kids I have done it all when it comes to the breast-feeding/formula-feeding controversy. Both have their pros and cons and at the end of the day, the only one who it should matter to is mom and that it works for baby. I love your comment that it's no one's business but your own. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing at Women With Intention Wednesdays! :)
    • Reply
      February 19, 2015 at 12:26 pm Thank you for the supportive words- 5 kids- that's AMAZING! Thank you for hosting!
  • Reply
    February 14, 2015 at 11:22 am Jessy, Thank you for providing this fantastic information. We are a daycare in Coquitlam, Rainforest Learning Centre Daycare, that continually looks for useful helpful information to share with our parents and the information you have provided here is truly amazing and helpful! We WILL be sharing this page! Your point about adding the water first is so simple, yet something that many people may not think about. Again, thank you!! Jen Rainforest Learning Centre Daycare Coquitlam
    • Reply
      February 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words- I'm glad you found it helpful :)
  • Reply
    July 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm This is a great post! It sometimes stresses me out that if we decide to use formula in the future I don’t even know the first thing about it. I agree 150% that someone’s reasons for how they feed are no one’s business.
    • Reply
      July 8, 2016 at 10:51 pm Thank you :) As far as I'm concerned, fed is best! I couldn't believe how little information was available about formula feeding. It's interesting because with our second daughter, breastfeeding is a totally different experience (it's working out very well this time) and now I've had a huge learning curve with this side of things and especially with pumping at work, which also didn't work out last time. Before being a mom I never knew how much goes into it, regardless of how you choose to feed your baby.
  • Reply
    September 24, 2020 at 1:02 pm Thank you for this!!! First babe and I bought all the things and was so set to breastfeed, it was a serious let down I felt when I couldn't past a week for various reasons and pumped to no avail. The guilt was real and sometimes still creeps in. I know how much I love my babe with all my heart and we need more women out there being kind and sharing this kind of info that normalizes caring for your baby in whatever way you can. <3 Keep it up please :)
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 10:59 pm I'm so glad it was helpful! Fed is best and you shouldn't feel guilty- hang in there Mama, you're doing great!

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