Would you believe me if I said being pro-breastfeeding doesn’t mean ‘anti-formula’? yes? No? Maybe? Well, whatever your answer is, the truth is, people who advocate for breastfeeding are not anti-formula. They’re mostly against the idea of deceiving mothers into thinking formula is the same as breastmilk.
Wait, hold on!
Before you attack me, consider this. According to the United Nations, millions of infants have died across low and middle-income countries (including Nigeria) due to the introduction of formula, amongst mothers without access to clean water. Studies also show that a great percentage of mothers simply do not know how to prepare formula safely. This then causes malnutrition, infant diseases and sometimes death. Now you understand better right?
Let’s talk about how you can use infant formula safely.
How To Choose The Right Baby Formula
Do you ever just go to a car dealership and buy a car? No. First you do your own research, then you ask questions and then you buy a car. This same process should be followed when you intend to buy formula. There are different kinds of formula. The basic kinds are Soy-based, Cow’s milk-based, Goat’s milk-based or lactose-free based.
Choosing a type will depend on your baby’s needs. Most babies will do well on a cow’s or goat’s milk-based formula. Babies with suspected allergies are likely to do better on a soy-based type and babies who are lactose intolerant will obviously do better on a lactose-free formula.
The things to really look out for are the add-ons. You want to ensure the formula you choose contains Iron, prebiotics, probiotics and is DHA/ARA fortified. You also want to check for the kind of preservatives used and whether the formula is organic or not (not saying it has to be organic). In the absence of formula, please do not try to substitute with adult’s milk, homemade formula, evaporated milk, rice milk, nuts milk, or even soy milk. All of these can cause real harm to your baby.
Guidelines for Preparing Infant Formula
We have established the fact that formula is not sterile, so strict hygiene must be ensured if you choose to feed your baby this way. Formula-fed babies are at an increased risk of infections and diseases such as diarrhea, especially in low and middle-income countries.
Here are the is a step-by-step guideline to prepare infant formula
- Start by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Next, wash and sterilize all utensils required. Bottles, spoon, teats, etc.
- Read the package instructions. Yes for real! Pick your formula can and now and type what the instructions say in the comments below
- Wipe the cover of the formula. You don’t want any dirt getting into your formula while you’re trying to open
- Measure the water as stated by the package instructions first. Please note that the water used MUST be boiled and allowed to cool for NOT MORE THAN 30mins. Always measure water first, not powder!
- Now, add the powder.
- Next, cover the bottle and then shake. Do not attempt to stir with a spoon except it has been previously sterilised
- Now, check the temperature of your prepared formula. If hot/warm, run the bottle under cool water. Ensure the bottle is covered to prevent contamination
- Feed the baby! It is not safe to use leftover formula even if it is refrigerated and reheated. Remember I said it’s not sterile. Also, your prepared bottle of formula is only good for 2 hours at room temperature and can last in 24-48 hours refrigerated if untouched. If your baby doesn’t finish it up within this period, please discard
- Always check on the package instruction to see how long your powdered formula is good for once opened.
- After feeding the baby, it is best to not put bottle parts in the sink directly. Place them in a bowl reserved for this purpose only and was when ready.
These instructions can be adapted for liquid formula. If your liquid formula is ‘ready to feed’ and requires no dilution, there’s no need to dilute, just feed the baby. If it is a liquid concentrate, then read package instructions on how to dilute.
Capiche? If you have any questions, feel free to send me a mail at Maryam.firstname.lastname@example.org