Although a can of powdered formula comes with a special scoop that should make it easy to measure and prepare a bottle properly, there remain a number of parents who make serious mistakes when putting together a bottle. Infant formula has been specifically designed to be fed to baby with a certain ratio of powder to water, and failing to follow the instructions can have consequences for your baby.
For most infant formulas, the ratio will be one scoop of powder to every two ounces of water. Even if your baby will not eat the full amount, it’s better to make an extra ounce rather than trying to eye what comprises a half-full scoop of formula in order to come up with an uneven number of ounces. If your baby normally takes 5 ounces, you should go ahead and make six in order to be sure your measurements are accurate.
Never use the scoop from an old can of formula in a new can. Each can comes with a fresh scoop, so discard the old one and use the new one. Over time, bacteria may contaminate a can of formula as well as the scoop. If you use the old scoop in a new can, you risk passing bacteria into the freshly opened formula.
Never Dilute Formula
Many parents will give their baby a bottle of formula that has been diluted; this means that they have added more water than the recommended two ounces to every scoop. Formula already contains the right amount of water for your baby’s needs. Giving a young baby too much water can actually be dangerous to their health. Too much water affect the ability of the baby’s body to absorb nutrients. There is also a dangerous condition called water intoxication that can be very serious; it occurs when the levels of electrolytes in the body are changed by too much water. Water intoxication can cause seizures and even put your baby into a coma.
Never give a baby under six months old extra water. If you have reason to suspect dehydration in your baby, contact your pediatrician right away for advice. Electrolyte beverages are the best choice for treating dehydration in babies, and will work more effectively than water.
Mixing Formula with Breast Milk
It is generally ok to combine breast milk and formula in the same bottle, whether you have been advised to do so for special reasons, or you are combining breast milk and formula in your baby’s diet. If you plan to combine them however, you should pre-mix the formula with water first, and then add the prepared formula to the breast milk. This prevents the powdered formula from making the breast milk too thick and also stops potential changes to the nutritional composition of the milk.
Because breast milk has a longer shelf life than formula, it can be wasteful to mix the two together. Any breast milk that has had formula added will need to be discarded according to the shelf life of formula and not of the milk. Don’t add formula to breast milk until right before a feeding. If possible, feed baby from two different bottles rather than mixing them. If you plan to wean from breast milk to formula, this will help baby to become accustomed to the new taste.