Baby feeding has many pervasive myths, especially about infant formula. Here are five of those myths debunked by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, family physician and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year:
Myth 1: Breast is best.
Fact: It depends on the mother and her baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural and easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally.It can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief, or used exclusively, depending on mom and baby’s needs. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant or a local La Leche League.
Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.
Fact: You do not need to sterilize your baby's bottles. This is another time saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for five minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.
Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.
Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.
Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (if it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.
Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.
Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal — just “eyeball it.”
Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each time.
Myth 5: Brand-name formula is best.
Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store-brand formula are practically identical but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store-brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands.
So, what’s the main difference? Store-brand formulas cost less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing.
Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!