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How To Properly Prepare Formula, Because It's More Complicated Than It Sounds

Preparing baby formula sounds easy enough. You measure the powder or liquid, you mix in some water, then you shake and serve. In practice, however, making a bottle of formula will require a few extra steps and a watchful eye, which might be hard to come by when you're holding a screaming infant and running on two hours of sleep. (Oh, the glamours of parenting.) So if you're planning to use formula once your newborn arrives, you'll want to know how to properly prepare formula to ensure your little one stays healthy, happy, and well-fed.

When my daughter was a cute, yet colicky, newborn, I definitely made mistakes when it came to formula-feeding, like sticking a half-finished bottle back into the fridge, which is a definite no-no as it turns out. But now that I'm pregnant with my second, I'm determined to do better in the formula preparation department, and that means starting with a clean slate — literally. Before you even grab that canister of formula, make sure to wash your hands with soap and to use a clean bottle and nipple. You don't need to go overboard and sterilize your bottles and accessories after each use, suggested the Mayo Clinic, but you should stick them in the dishwasher or clean them by hand.

Once your hands are washed and your bottle is ready, it's time to prepare the formula. If you're using liquid-concentrate formula, shake the liquid first and mix it with water. Then pour the amount you need into the clean bottle, attach the cap and nipple, and shake again. If your baby takes powdered formula, first use a measuring cup to measure the water needed and pour the liquid into the bottle. Then, following the measurement guide on your formula container, carefully scoop the required amount of powder and place it in the bottle. Attach the cap and bottle, and shake the formula well.

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As tempting as it is to eyeball the measurements, remember to follow the formula package's instructions to a T, suggests internist and pediatrician Dr. Betsy Marks in an interview with Romper. Marks, who practices in Albany, New York, points out that "it can be very dangerous to put in either too little water, which can cause dehydration, or too much water, which can cause severe electrolyte imbalances."

While some babies don't mind drinking cold formula, others prefer — "demand" might be a better word for it — a warmer bottle. If your child falls into this category, you can place the prepared bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Just remember to resist putting the bottle in the microwave, as noted in Today's Parent, because that might create hot spots that can burn your baby's mouth.

Taking care of a baby can prove trickier than you expected, from choosing the best wipes to keeping your newborn warm (but not too warm) to preparing a simple bottle of formula. It can all feel so overwhelming, but with time and practice you'll get the hang of it — and you'll soon be prepping bottles like a champ.