While many moms breastfeed exclusively, that's not the only option for nursing mothers. It turns out you can, in fact, have the best of both worlds by supplementing nursing sessions with formula. The choice is, of course, a personal one, and can make the jump from "just breast milk" to formula supplementation nothing less than overwhelming. There are simply so many options, so how do you decide what's right for your baby? If you find yourself wondering how to choose a newborn formula to supplement breastfeeding, please know that you're not alone. While it's true that there are a lot of options made available to you, finding one that works best for you and your family doesn't have to be a painful process. It could, however, take a little trial and error.
According to BabyCareMag.com, there are a few questions to ask yourself before going on this formula journey. The first, of course, centers around assessing the age of your baby. Age has a lot to do with choosing the right supplement. The site went on to add that a premature baby, a baby with a sensitive stomach, or one who struggles with acid reflux may require specialized formula. The next question to consider, the site advised, covers the type of formula you prefer. The three main types are powdered, premixed, and concentrated, with powdered being the most work but also the most economical. The last thing to consider is how your baby will digest formula. Excess gassiness and fussiness that continues for three days or more may indicate the need for a change.
According to Parenting, if you're going to supplement with formula, it's important to gradually lessen breastfeeding sessions so not to experience clogged milk ducts or mastitis. Susan Burger, a lactation consultant in New York City, tells Parenting it's also important not to wait too long to introduce a bottle, or your baby may reject it (if they've been solely breastfed up to this point). On the other hand, BabyCenter says to wait until your baby has reached at least one month of age before introducing a bottle with formula if you've been breastfeeding.
Once you're ready to make the jump, Parents says that some breastfeeding is better than none. So, if you're able to continue breastfeeding while you supplement certain feedings with formula (called combo-feeding), your baby will be able to capitalize on the specific health benefits breast milk provides, too. Consumer Reports has a lot of great tips, including staying brand loyal (once you find the formula that works), never diluting with extra water — which can lead to malnutrition — follow all directions, and, if required, store in the refrigerator after opening.
Dr. Steve Abrams, M.D., a neonatologist who sits on the American Academy of Pediatric's (AAP) Nutrition Committee, tells Consumer Reports that while trial and error may be required to find the right formula, parents "should discuss it with the pediatrician instead of picking a formula that you think will solve the problem." In an unofficial survey of various stores across the country, Consumer Reports also says that if you're looking towards powdered formula, the survey found that Enfamil Premium Infant Formula costs 27 to 35 percent less than Enfamil Premium Ready-to-Feed formula. Concentrated brands tend to be more expensive, and you still have to measure, but prices vary.
If you're in need of convenience, liquid formulas cost more but are easier to prepare. ABCKidsInc.Com rates their top five choices to supplement breastfeeding, complete with pros and cons. Their choices include two organic premium powdered formulas, a gentle supplement said to be "ideal" for newborns (and up to a year), an easily digested formula, and a formula said to help with stomach issues such as diarrhea and constipation.
The bottom line is if, and when, you're ready to introduce formula to your breastfed baby, it's important to speak to your doctor and do your own research. After all, there's no one right answer for all.
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