Children & Adolescents Clinic

 Home Parent's Guide

Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Formula (Bottle) Feeding - Brief Version

Breast milk is best for babies, but breast-feeding isn't always possible. If you choose to bottle-feed, be sure to always use formula until your baby is 1 year old. When your baby is 1 year old, you may start to give your baby whole cow's milk.

Formulas are made especially for babies. Most are made with cow's milk. Others are made from soybeans for babies who are allergic to or have a hard time digesting regular formula.

You can get formula in three ways:

  • Powder
  • Concentrated liquid
  • Ready-to-serve liquid

How do I mix formula?

  • If you use powder, mix each level scoop of powder with 2 ounces of water.
  • If you use concentrate, mix it with equal parts of water.
  • If you use ready-to-serve formula, do not add any water.

Always follow the directions. Do not add more powder or liquid or water than you are directed. If the formula is too concentrated or too diluted, your baby will not get what he needs.

If you use tap water for making formula, use only water from the cold water tap. Let the water run for 2 minutes before you use it. Fresh, cold water is safe. Do not use warm or hot tap water. The warm water can cause lead to get into the water from the pipes.

If you make one bottle at a time, you don't need to use boiled water. Heat the cold tap water on the stove or microwave.

If you would rather make a batch of formula:

Use boiled or distilled water. Follow the directions printed on the side of the formula can. Put formula in the refrigerator. Use it within 48 hours.

How often should I feed my baby?

Most babies need:

  • 6 to 8 feedings per day for the first 3 weeks
  • 5 to 6 feedings per day from 1 to 3 months
  • 4 to 5 feedings per day from 3 to 7 months
  • 3 to 4 feedings per day from 7 to 9 months

Your baby may start with 1 ounce per feeding. By 7 days, he may take 3 ounces. Divide your baby's weight (in pounds) in half to find the amount (in ounces) he will probably need. For example, if your baby weighs 8 pounds, your baby will probably drink 4 ounces per feeding.

When you are traveling, ready-to-serve formulas are the easiest.

What about fluoride?

When your baby is 6 months old and until she is 16 years of age, she may need fluoride to prevent dental caries. If the water supply where you live has fluoride and your child drinks at least 1 pint each day, the water should provide enough. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to use fluoride drops or tablets. Talk to your health care provider.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems