Bottle-fed babies need an iron-fortified formula for the first year of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that iron-fortified formula prevents anemia (low red blood cell count and low hemoglobin). Studies have shown that babies receiving an iron-fortified formula have no more gassiness, fussiness, or constipation than infants receiving low-iron formula. Cow milk-based formulas are recommended over soy unless the baby is allergic to cow milk protein. Soy formula can also be iron fortified.
Take the first feeding slowly. Your baby’s stomach is about the size of a walnut and, therefore, he or she may want only sips. Gradually, over the next several days, your baby will take one to three ounces at each feeding. Feed your baby when he or she seems hungry. Don’t try to adhere to a schedule at first. Your baby may feed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours in the first few days. Later, feeding may be less frequent, with a greater amount of formula consumed at each feeding.
Always hold your baby close during feedings. Never prop bottles. Babies need to be cuddled and held close during feeding. Alternately hold your baby in your right and left arms during feeding. This helps develop your baby’s eye muscle development.
Burp your baby after feeding. It isn’t usually necessary to interrupt feeding for burping unless your baby seems uncomfortable.
Monitor wet diapers and bowel movements. Six or more wet diapers and several bowel movements a day indicate your baby is getting enough to eat. Babies who are formula fed occasionally become constipated. Contact your doctor for advice if this happens.
Formula is available in three preparations: ready-to-feed, concentrated liquid, and powder. It is essential to follow the directions for mixing the concentrate or powder. Any over-concentrated solution is difficult for the baby’s kidneys and digestive system to handle. A formula that is too diluted will not provide the nutrition that babies need in order to grow.
Babies sometimes show a preference for one nipple type over another. You may need to experiment to find the right one. There is no need to sterilize bottles or nipples. Just clean nipples with a nipple brush in hot, soapy water and rinse with hot water. Bottles may be run through the dishwasher or washed with hot, soapy water and rinsed with hot water.
Babies have growth spurts and need to feed more frequently at these times. The first growth spurt usually occurs around 7 to 14 days, followed by spurts at four to six weeks, three months, and six months. These growth spurts last one to three days. During this period your baby will want to eat more often. After the growth spurt, your baby’s feeding pattern will return to normal.