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Preparing and Handling Infant Formula

Handling It
Always immediately refrigerate any open cans of ready-to-feed formula and any mixture of concentrated liquid or powdered formula and water.

Mixed formula is good for forty-eight hours as long as it is properly refrigerated, the bottles are clean and properly sealed, and your refrigerator thermometer registers no higher than 39°F. After forty-eight hours, discard any unused formula. Likewise, pitch what's left over in the bottle when baby doesn't finish the entire amount.

Never refrigerate leftover breast milk or infant formula from a previous feeding to give to your baby later on. As baby sucks, the bacteria from her mouth can get into the bottle and multiply, causing intestinal illness should you use the leftover milk.

Focus on Safe Formula
Parents don't always prepare and handle formula the way they should, despite having read, and claiming to understand, manufacturers' directions. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers found that 33 percent of moms mixed formula with warm water directly out of the tap (cooled boiled water is recommended) and nearly half of the mothers heated baby bottles in a microwave (frowned upon because of the risk of burns). In addition, when infant formula was left at room temperature for more than two hours (it should be refrigerated at all times), the chances for diarrhea in older infants increased. Other potentially harmful practices included diluting formula, putting baby to bed with a bottle, and adding cereal or medicine to prepared formula.

Feeding the Baby
There's no scientific proof that babies prefer warm formula, but it's fine to serve it that way. Resist the temptation to microwave bottles of formula for speedy warm-up, however. Microwaving infant formula can be harmful. Microwave heating is uneven, making it difficult to monitor the temperature of the formula in the bottle's center. The bottle may feel only slightly warm, but steam can build within the bottle, causing an explosion and spraying hot milk that can badly bum an infant.

Always cradle your baby in a semiupright position in the crook of your arm when feeding, and tilt her bottle so that the nipple fills with milk. Never prop up a bottle for your daughter to feed from. It's a health risk, and it's antisocial. Feeding your baby is an opportunity for you to spend some quiet time holding and speaking to her, and a chance for her to study your face and get to know it, as well as to listen to your voice.

Begin feeding by gently brushing baby on one cheek with your finger or with the nipple of the bottle, so that she will instinctively turn toward the bottle while opening her mouth. Once her mouth is open, slide the nipple nearly all the way in, but gently. Your baby should begin to suck immediately, but it could take a few tries, so repeat the process as often as necessary, and try not to get frustrated!

Bottle-fed babies, be it formula or breast milk, typically need to burp more than babies who get milk from the breast. That's because infants take in more air as they suck from a bottle. If your baby begins to snooze after a feeding, let her be. If not, try gently burping her. Burping can make way for more formula in the stomach, so that you can feed her until she is full. Never force a bottle on an infant.

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Copyright © 2002 by Elizabeth M. Ward. Excerpted from Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids with permission of its publisher, Adams Media Corporation.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.


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