So you want to find out which bottle-feeding safety mistakes you could be committing so that you can stop making them? This post is for you!
Bottle-feeding your baby comes with a lot of extra work. From choosing the right baby formula, baby bottles, to sterilizing the bottles and preparing the milk.
It will always add more work to your already busy mom life.
Because of this, you will always be looking for tips to make it easier.
Never mind wanting to save some money. Formula and all those bottles don’t come cheap!
Who wouldn’t want to find an easier and more affordable way to bottle-feed?
I know I would…
Although there are ‘mom tips’ you can follow to save yourself time and energy (and some extra bucks), you might not be aware that some of them actually compromise your baby’s safety and health.
There’s no harm in wanting to make formula-feeding less stressful, but keeping your baby safe should be your first priority.
You want to strictly avoid making that mistake of making life easier at the expense of your baby’s safety and health.
So let’s go over bottle-feeding safety mistakes moms make every day and how you can avoid making them.
Bottle-feeding Safety Mistakes Every Mom Should Stop Making
Here are the most common but dangerous mistakes you need to stop making to make bottle-feeding safer for your baby.
Mistake #1: Selecting The Wrong Formula For Baby
Mistakenly giving the baby the wrong kind of formula is not something we do on purpose.
I’ve learned over time that infant formula is not the same. I have also learned that most parents are just not aware that formulas differ until their baby shows signs of a negative reaction to the milk.
Choosing the right formula for your baby is crucial.
There are times when regular powdered formula and ready-to-use formula or concentrated liquid formula is not suitable for your baby.
In such cases, with guidance from a medical professional, you might want to consider getting your baby hypoallergenic formula (partially or extensively hydrolyzed).
These types of formulas are broken down so that they are easy for your baby’s stomach to handle.
If there’s a chance that your baby might be allergic to regular baby formula (maybe you have a family history of food allergies or eczema), you can think of using partially hydrolyzed formula from the start.
However, do research and consult your doctor to be sure the milk you choose is the best suitable choice for your baby’s nutritional needs.
Other types of infant formula include soy-based formula, goat’s milk, lactose-free and specialized kinds made specifically for sensitive stomachs.
Only use these types once advised to do so by a medical professional.
Mistake #2: Not Sterilizing Baby Bottles
It’s extremely important to prepare your baby’s formula milk in a clean environment using sterilized equipment.
Babies’ stomachs are fragile and we need to take extra precautions when feeding them.
Non-sterilized equipment could contain harmful bacteria for your baby.
You can sterilize baby bottles, nipples, and caps using either the boiling method, sterilizing solution, or microwave method. You can follow the directions given by the manufacturer on the packaging.
Use this microwave sterilizing unit if you need sterilized bottles fast.
If you are away from home and don’t have access to a power supply, these sterilizing pills are so convenient.
Sterilization is especially important when you are reuse baby bottles. You want to remove built-up dirt and make the bottles safe for your new baby.
It’s equally important to wash your hands or sanitize them before handling baby’s feeding equipment.
Only handle sterilized bottles using clean hands. Don’t touch inside, Don’t touch the nipples.
Make sure nothing else comes in contact with any bottle part that your baby is going to put in his mouth.
Mistake #3: Not Using Sterilized Water
Infant formula should be made using only sterilized water. Part of the reason for this is that, as printed on the packaging, baby formula itself isn’t always sterile.
Another reason is that sometimes the water we consume in our homes is deemed unsafe for a baby if not sterilized.
The water we use includes tap water, bottled water, spring water, and well water.
You shouldn’t use these kinds in their raw form to prepare baby’s milk. There is no way of being certain that the water is safe for your little one.
Even if you consult your municipality or a government body to ask if the water can be consumed by your baby, sometimes you just wonder if it is safe.
You can use specialized bottled water for babies if you don’t mind the extra cost. Another option is distilled water.
If you are anything like me, you will want to be sure the water is safe. That means sterilizing it yourself.
So unless you use bottled baby water or distilled water, in most cases, unfortunately, you have to boil water for preparing formula to make it sterile. It’s extra work but it’s necessary.
You want to make the milk as safe as possible for your baby.
How Long Can You Store Boiled Water?
Sterilized water is good for about 24 hours at room temperature (source). After that you need to use freshly sterilized water, so you will have to boil another batch.
Just remember to not reboil the same water that you have sterilized before.
To sterilize water, boil it in the kettle and let it cool down for a few minutes, use it, or store it in a clean, sterilized container.
How To Store Boiled Water For Making Baby Formula
What I do is boil water and place it in a flask afterward. I then boil another portion of water, let it cool for a while in the kettle, and pour it into a sterilized glass bottle.
When I make milk, I mix the two in these proportions: 50ml cold water to 10 ml hot water.
This is the temperature at which my baby likes her milk, your little one might prefer a different temperature.
I used to pour hot water into one of my daughter’s large bottles to cool down and use to make her formula. I changed after reading this informative article on the disadvantage of putting hot water in plastic baby bottles and the dangers that doing so poses to your baby’s health.
Nowadays I cool the water down and store it in a glass bottle.
You don’t need a special bottle for this, a good quality glass bottle like this one will do.
Keep track of what time you boiled the water and make sure to use or change it in 24 hours’ time.
When Can You Start Using Tap Water To Prepare Baby Formula?
The reason behind boiling water to use for mixing formula is mainly your baby’s safety. You want to use water that is deemed safe for consumption by a baby.
I have come across articles saying you can stop boiling the water once your baby is 4 months old, but honestly, I’d rather use everything sterilized until 12 months.
Rather safe than sorry 🙂
Yes, all this sterilization is hard work. Every mom who is formula feeding her baby will agree. But it’s best to take these extra steps to protect our little ones.
Mistake #4: Using Hot Water To Mix Baby Formula
Never ever prepare baby formula milk using hot water.
The water should be boiled but left to cool down before using.
Besides putting your little one at risk of burning if the milk is not cooled enough, using hot water can kill the nutrients in the formula, resulting in your baby not getting the complete nutrition that he needs.
Always use cool sterilized water as stated on the formula packaging.
I’d say first check if your baby really doesn’t like drinking formula at room temperature.
Getting them used to warm milk adds extra work on top of all the work that comes with bottle-feeding.
Milk at room temperature should be fine. That’s mostly how my daughter takes it.
If your little one doesn’t like the temperature, warm the water in a small cup with a small amount of hot water.
It’s better to warm the water before mixing it with the powder, just in case you make it too hot. That way you can still cool the water down without risking damaging the formula.
It’s also not advisable to warm the milk in a microwave since it could result in unevenly heating up the milk.
You run the risk of burning your little one if the milk is cool on some parts but hot on other parts.
Always check the temperature of the milk with the inside of your wrist or upper arm before giving it to the baby to avoid burning his mouth.
Reheating Baby Formula
Once you heat up your baby’s milk, you should not reheat it. Just as you shouldn’t use hot milk to prepare formula, reheating the same batch can damage the nutritional value of that milk.
It’s also not wise to reheat milk that your little one didn’t finish (within that important 1 hour period).
This is because when warm, formula milk provides an even greater environment for harmful bacteria to grow. It’s even worse once mixed with the baby’s saliva.
If you warm your baby’s milk before time for the next feed, keep the bottle in an insulated bottle carrier until your baby is ready for a feed.
Mistake #5: Incorrectly Mixing Baby Formula
Another common bottle-feeding safety mistake moms make without realizing the health risk they are putting their baby in.
It’s best to always follow the preparation instructions on the formula packaging.
Formula milk just does not contain the same nutrients as breastmilk. This can be expected because it is not natural after all. It’s therefore critical to not mess with the water-to-powder ratios.
Yes, infant formula is way too expensive. That we all agree on.
For this reason, some parents try to get the bottle go a little further by reducing the amount of powder per feed. This is very dangerous for the baby’s health.
Reducing the formula powderer results in your baby consuming too much water and little formula. That means he will get less nutrition in that feed.
Putting in more than the recommended amount of powder could result in dehydration as well as constipation since there will be less water in that feed.
Sometimes you can make a mistake and mix an incorrect amount of formula, especially at night when you are exhausted.
To avoid this, use a formula dispenser and measure the correct amount into different compartments for easy preparation.
Mistake #6: Incorrectly Storing Prepared Baby Formula
Of all the questions about bottle-feeding and bottle-feeding safety, the question of how long you keep mixed formula is quite common.
According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a mixed formula that you have not given to your baby can be stored in the refrigerator and has to be used within 24 hours then you will have to discard it.
So you can prepare baby formula in advance, just put it in the fridge and make sure it’s finished before 24 hours or discard the remainder.
You can even prepare a batch of formula, enough for the whole day. Use a big glass pitcher, like this one, and store it in the fridge.
If left at room temperature, the milk is only good for 2 hours (this will differ from brand to brand, as written on the packaging), after that you have to toss it out. That is the milk that your baby hasn’t touched at all.
If your baby starts to drink and doesn’t finish that bottle within one hour, again, you must throw out the remaining milk.
I know the heartbreak of preparing a bottle only to throw it down the drain afterward. It’s disappointing when all that hard work goes to waste. Never mind the money!
But you need to throw it out, unfortunately.
The thing is, once infant formula sits out for too long, harmful bacteria start developing (source). It develops faster once it comes into contact with the baby’s saliva. Giving your baby old formula can make him sick.
So it’s best to be cautious and throw it out. What can we say? No one said being a mom is easy.
Mistake #7: Using Incorrect Bottle Nipple Size
Choosing the wrong size for the nipple can have adverse effects on your baby.
Newborns typically start with size 0 or 1, depending on your choice of manufacturer. But that will be the lowest size for that brand. Keep in mind the recommendations on the packaging for when you should change to a bigger size.
Your baby will definitely give you cues like being fussy or getting frustrated because he’s not getting enough milk when sucking.
Don’t move to a bigger nipple size too soon. Your baby will take in a larger portion than he can handle and this could result in choking.
Similarly, using a nipple that is too small will result in your little one getting tired of sucking (and possibly falling asleep) before getting full.
This means less nutrition for your baby.
Regularly replace bottle nipples as your baby grows. Find nipples for your baby’s bottles here.
Mistake #8: Incorrectly Storing Formula Powder
First and foremost, always check the expiry date printed on the container.
Secondly, follow the correct storage instructions. Close the container lid and ensure it is airtight after scooping out the formula powder.
If you are going to transfer the powder to a different container, make sure it is completely dry and airtight as well.
Store the container in a clean environment free of dust or anything that can fall on top of the container.
Be sure to wipe the lid before opening to remove any contaminants that can fall into the container.
Mistake #9: Letting Baby Fall Asleep With The Bottle While Feeding
In most cases, babies will fall asleep while drinking the bottle. No matter how hard I try, sometimes I just can’t stop my daughter from dozing off while feeding.
Stop feeding immediately once your baby falls asleep.
Letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle can lead to them choking, being more prone to developing an ear infection, and tooth decay if they already have teeth (source).
Are You Making These Formula Feeding Mistakes?
If you are guilty of any of these safety mistakes, be sure to stop right now. For your little one’s sake.
As a mom of two, I know how busy your life as a mom can get. I also know how we are always more than ready to welcome any life-saving tips.
Keep in mind that although these clever tips can help save you time and energy, all the extra effort you make helps you keep your baby safe.
Bottle-feeding exposes your little one to bacteria, it’s therefore very important to avoid making these bottle-feeding mistakes for your baby’s safety.
As I always say, your baby’s safety is your first priority!