10 Reasons to Feed Your Baby Formula

Perhaps the biggest battle raging in the midst of the mommy wars is whether to breastfeed your baby or feed your baby formula.  No matter what your decision, there is a lot of judgment either way.  These days, the trend is toward breast feeding.  I chose to breastfeed Bugaboo for a year – you can find out my reasons why here.  However, breastfeeding provided a lot of challenges, and probably a month did not go by where I wished I was feeding my baby formula.  Unfortunately, it feels like there is a stigma against formula feeding that we really ought to stop.  There really are a lot of reasons you may want to choose to formula feed your baby!

You’re Going Back to Work

Breastfeeding takes a lot of work and requires you to be available to your baby 24/7.  If you are returning to work, you may be considering feeding your baby to formula.  Don’t let anyone tell you this is not acceptable.  Some moms do try to pump breastmilk at work that they then give to their childcare providers to feed the baby the next day.  Although companies with 50 or more employees are required to establish a private pumping room for new moms, it can be difficult or impossible to fit pumping into your work routine.  For instance, many teachers say they are not given adequate breaks to keep up the pumping schedule.  Some jobs require a mother to travel – either to be out on the road all day without access to pumping rooms, or to travel overnight.  They cannot easily store the milk they pump in these situations.

It’s a lot of pressure to ask a mom to leave her baby to go back to work and, on top of that, to continue to breastfeed or pump.  You shouldn’t be expected to be up all night nursing your baby and then overcompensating with caffeine the next morning in order to put in a good performance at work.  Feeding the baby formula allows you more freedom to share responsibility with your husband.

If you want to try breastfeeding as much as possible and pumping is not an option at work, you can still consider giving your baby formula during the day and then nursing on nights and weekends.  This will give you extra bonding time with your baby when you get home from work and may help your baby with the transition when you return to work.  It will also save you the stress of having to pump in your increasingly limited spare time.

Nursing Isn’t Going Well

I certainly had a lot of challenges getting Bugaboo to nurse.  For some reason, breastfeeding doesn’t seem to come as naturally to babies as one would think.  For this reason, I attended a breastfeeding support group and multiple lactation consultations.  Even so, I was still on the verge of quitting many times.  By about six weeks my milk supply had come in, but it hurt to nurse, and I was considering exclusively pumping.  Many moms go this route, and it’s a great alternative to breastfeeding.  However, I was struggling to find the time!  Bugaboo was an active baby at that point, and I couldn’t pump while she was awake.

Having a new baby is a stressful time in your life.  In addition, you may be encountering hormones that send your emotions out of whack.  If nursing is not going well, you don’t need to push yourself to the edge of your limits just to give the baby breastmilk.  Allow yourself to feed the baby formula – you are still a good parent!

Formula Is Easier for Sleep Training

Babies love to suck, and one thing breastfeeding moms learn quickly is that they can nurse their babies to sleep.  This can be a benefit sometimes.  However, it also creates a dependency on breastfeeding.  If you choose to feed your baby formula, you can control when they eat and how much.  If you are trying to wean your baby from night feedings, you can simply put less formula in the bottle or water the formula down.  This will help shift the baby’s calories to daytime and help the baby sleep longer at night.

Your Baby Is Adopted

If your baby is adopted, it’s assumed she will drink formula.  Some moms are able to obtain breastmilk from donors by utilizing social media.  However, babies need a lot of milk.  It can be exhausting to go searching for donors, arrange to meet them, and protect the integrity of the breastmilk.  In addition, you would need at a minimum to pay for their milk storage bags, but it would be a nice gesture to give them a Thank You gift.

One thing to think about as a mom giving her baby formula: if formula is good enough for all the adopted babies, isn’t it good enough for your baby?  That’s right – giving your baby formula is still a loving choice as a parent.

Avoid the Hormones

After nine months of pregnancy, you think you are done with crazy hormones that control your life.  But if you breastfeed, hormones will continue to rule you until the baby is weaned.  Some moms are happy when breastfeeding.  Others actually experience moodiness and anxiety that only goes away when they wean.  If you want to feel like you again, you may want to feed the baby formula.

You’re Ready for Another Child

Breastfeeding can be a natural way to space children and avoid fertility.  However, you cannot control what your hormones are going to do.  Your fertility may return at six months even when exclusively breastfeeding.  It may not return for up to three months after you have weaned your baby.  If you want to be able to track your fertility or conceive again, you may want to feed your baby formula.

Breast Size

Breastfeeding can affect the size and shape of your breasts for obvious reasons.  During your pregnancy, your breasts already grew and changed shape.  However, when your milk comes in you will experience another change in your body.  It can be disconcerting to go through these changes, and it may even affect your self-esteem and how you see yourself as a woman.  Further, nursing can sometimes leave your breasts deflated and saggy.  If you wish to avoid these dramatic changes to your body, you may choose to give your baby formula.

Eyesight and Other Medical Challenges

When Bugaboo was about four months old, I visited my ophthalmologist.  She checked out my eyes, nodding and smiling the entire time.  Then she told me she would not change my prescription as long as I was nursing.  She said the hormones from pregnancy and breastfeeding could impact your eyesight, and she didn’t want to assume that what my eyes were doing was permanent.  In the year I breastfed, I encountered questions about whether I was nursing from a lot of medical professionals.  If you are undergoing medical procedures or tests that you want to be accurate, you may want to feed your baby formula so that your hormones can get back under control.

Formula Allows You to Eat Whatever You Want

When you breastfeed your baby, you are intaking food into your body, turning that food into milk, and then feeding it to your baby.  As such, everything you eat becomes a potential problem for your baby.  Most moms know about the potential risks of drinking alcohol or coffee while breastfeeding.  Perhaps you want to (or need to) resume your morning joe or would like to have a girls’ night out.

There are other food related hazards when breastfeeding.  Your baby may have an intolerance to something you are eating such as dairy, soy, or gluten.  Your choices may be to give up these foods while your baby nurses or switch to formula.  Formulas designed with special dietary needs in mind do tend to be more expensive.  However, I could not live a life with no milk products!  Fake chocolate?  No thank you!

Even if your baby doesn’t have an intolerance, you may find that certain foods irritate your baby.  She may be fussy, spit up more, or not sleep well.  These may be old wives tales, but some mothers who eat spicy foods, tomato sauces, and gassy vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower may experience more irritable babies.  If you feed your baby formula, your baby’s diet will be consistent, no matter what you are eating.

Your Medicine May Not Allow You to Nurse

If you are on a prescription medication, you will need to find out if it is compatible with breastfeeding.  If not, you will need to give your baby formula.  Your doctor prescribed certain medicines to you for a reason, and as a mother you need to take care of yourself first.

In addition, certain cold medicines may dry up your milk supply.  Think about it – if Sudafed is designed to dry up the liquids causing your nose to run, then it may dry up the liquids that create milk.  During cold season, you may be tempted to wean your baby and start formula so that you can get some relief.

Formula Helps You Measure Intake

Breastfeeding mothers can have a tough time of it.  They are expected to count the number of wet and poopy diapers their babies go through in order to verify that the baby is nursing enough.  In our breastfeeding support groups we would weigh the baby: weekly to make sure she was gaining enough weight, and after nursing to find out just how many ounces she took!  If you are feeding your baby formula in a bottle, you know exactly how much milk she is getting at every feeding.  Babies are opinionated and good at regulating what they need.  Your baby may choose to take more or less formula than you calculate she should.  Whether she is getting enough or too much formula, it is beneficial to know exactly how much she is taking in.  You can always talk to your doctor about your baby’s weight gain and what steps to take to get it on the right track.

Formula Provides the Right Nutrition for Your Baby

Not too long ago, doctors were telling mothers to use formula.  The reason?  Formula is based on science.  It is designed to provide the nutrients your baby needs.  Breastfeeding moms have to take a daily vitamin and work to eat a balanced diet.  This way they will provide the right nutrients to their baby.  Even then, breastmilk does not contain enough Vitamin D for baby so some pediatricians recommend supplementing.  As breastfed babies are introduced to solids, they are encouraged to eat meats that contain iron.  Formula fed babies do not have to eat any specific first foods, because their formula is specifically designed to meet their nutritional needs.

In addition, if your baby has a food intolerance or allergy, you can find a formula designed to feed your baby what she needs.  You don’t have to worry about accidentally consuming something wrong in your own diet.  For instance, if your baby is intolerant of milk, you can find formula that is milk free but will still provide the nutrition that drinking milk would have given her.

Use Formula to Avoid Breastfeeding in Public

There is a fight going on to allow women to breastfeed in public.  I think the breastfeeding mothers are winning, and I support them wholeheartedly!  But just because we are making nursing in public more acceptable doesn’t mean that every mother wants to do it.  Even if you cover up, you may be exposed to curious looks.  But covering up while trying to nurse is not an easy task, especially as the baby ages and wants to roll around.  If you are breastfeeding, you may feel homebound until your baby’s feeding schedule clears up because you don’t want to nurse in public.  If you feed your baby formula, you can grab some formula and an empty bottle and go.  This allows you a lot of mobility from day one.

What You’ll Need

So you’ve decided to feed your baby formula?  What will you need?  The following list contains affiliate links.

Supplies

  • Bottles and lots of them – We have always liked Dr. Brown’s bottles because they help prevent gas in your baby.  Each parent and baby may have specific needs in a bottle, though.  Babies can be particular and may not accept just any bottle.  I would suggest getting about 12 bottles if you intend to exclusively formula feed.  This will give you a bottle for 2 days worth of feedings at 6 feedings a day.  In addition, consider bottle sizes.  Newborns start out eating a lot less and may only need a 4 oz. bottle.  As the baby ages, you can scale up to a larger bottle.  If you plan to formula feed, go ahead and get some larger bottles to begin with.
  • Cleaning racks – You may want a drying rack or special place to keep your bottles, or you may choose to purchase a dishwasher rack.  If you do buy a bottle drying rack, make sure the rack itself stays dry and doesn’t build up mold.  Drying racks that look like little patches of grass may look fun, but they can allow a lot of water to build up and present a hazard for bacteria.
  • Clean Water – If you are concerned at all about the quality of your tap water, or if you have well water, purchase bottled water for your baby.  Many stores carry gallon bottles of water without fluoride specifically designed for babies.  Even if you are out and about, have some bottled water to pour into a bottle for your baby.
  • Bottle Warmer – The formula you feed your baby should be warm – if you dab a little on your skin, you shouldn’t feel it.  You don’t want to microwave formula in case it gets too hot and burns the baby.  The microwave can cause the formula to heat unevenly, so you might not know that there’s a hot patch.  Purchase a quality bottle warmer, preferably one you can take with you on the go.  Another option is to heat up some water in the microwave and let your bottle float in the hot water until the heat transfers into the formula.

Formula

There are countless brands and formulations to choose from, so you will have to see what your baby tolerates best.  Remember that store brand formulas are required by the FDA to be safe for the baby and foster healthy growth, so don’t feel that you have to purchase brand name formula.  If you sign up your baby on the Enfamil and Similac websites, they will send you cases of formula samples to try out.  This will help to determine what works best for your baby.  In the grand scheme of your baby’s life, it won’t save you tons of money on formula (but it helps).  They will also send you monthly coupons.

Once you know the brand of formula you want, order it through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program.  You can save up to 15% by setting up repeat shipments for Amazon to send to your house.  In addition to saving on the cost of formula, this will save time.  Join Amazon Prime Family and add diapers to your subscribe and save program to ease the burden of shopping for diapers and formula for your baby’s first year.  Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime Family here to see how much you can save.

These are the good old days – don’t waste them worrying about whether you should be feeding your baby formula or breastmilk.  You are your baby’s mother and you love her!  The choice you make will be the right one for your family!

Did you formula feed?  What were your reasons?

 

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