How to Tell if Baby Formula Is a Good Fit
By Jackie Cartier
November 21, 2017
This blog post is the second post of a 2-part series on baby formula. You can read Part 1, How to Choose The Best Formula for Your Baby, here.
Last month we introduced you to Dr. Bridget Young and her comprehensive website BabyFormulaExpert.com. We shared what Dr. Young suggests parents to look for, and be aware of, when deciding which formula they are going to introduce to their infants. Today we’re back with how Dr. Young suggests you decide if the formula you are trying is a good fit for your baby. First, how long are you supposed to test each formula?
How Long to Test a Formula
When it comes to choosing a formula, give it time. Just like an adult, if you’re doing an elimination diet, you don’t expect results overnight. Same goes for a baby, you need to give the baby time to recover from one formula before judging the next. Dr. Young suggests giving it at least a week or ten days. Granted, “Ten days is an extremely long time over a two month life!” so it may feel tenuous, but it’s worth it to judge whether or not it made an improvement. Switching too rapidly doesn’t give time for any healing to occur before an improvement can be observed. Overwhelmed? Dr. Young says to “Treat it scientifically with a lot of observation.”
How Much Should You Feed Baby?
Dr. Young would encourage you to speak with your doctor for an accurate estimate. What you’ll be looking for to see if your quantity of formula is right is a good output of urine, depending on the baby’s age, and stool. The rule of thumb for exclusively formula-fed babies is to start with 2 ½ ounces per pound of body weight with a max of 32 ounces of formula, which is the most any baby should need before 6 months old. This is just a starting point. Some babies will naturally drink more, and some will naturally drink less than this amount. Babies’ intakes will also increase with growth spurts and then decrease. A lot of variation that is normal.
Dr. Young still encourages feeding on demand, just like you would feed a breastfed baby. Of course the older they get, the larger their bottles will be. Stop feeding them when they start to exhibit cues that they are full such as turning head away from the bottle, pushing the bottle away, squirming and attempting to move or arching their back away from bottle. Don’t encourage them to finish the bottle when they are full.
How to Tell If Baby is Allergic to Cow’s Milk
As stated in the previous blog post, a true cow’s milk allergy is much rarer than people think. Often babies will have a sensitivity to this protein source, perhaps becoming gassy or cranky, but they don’t have an allergy response which would be a rash, blood in stool or congestion. So what causes the sensitivity? Developing intestines, says Dr. Young. “Every day their intestines mature, and they’re able to digest more complex things.” So while your infant may have sensitivities, don’t count it as a food allergy straight away, and always call your doctor.
Would Organic Work Better?
Dr. Young is often asked, “Is organic better?” but she cautions that this is not the first question parents should be asking. Instead, focus on the protein size and source as discussed earlier “… because that has a lot more impact on their baby at the beginning.” If you could have the non-organic protein source that’s ideal or the not ideal protein source that is organic, go with the ideal protein source.
That said, if you’ve done your research and found the protein source you want and have two options, one organic and one not, then Dr. Young says “Of course I’d recommend organic, if your budget allows. If it doesn’t, that is NO problem.” She cautions parents not to feel bad or stress if finances don’t allow for organic.
What Are Signs A Formula Isn’t Working?
First things first, if you’re worried baby is having an issue, call your pediatrician.
Second, know that just like there is no perfect formula, there is no perfect baby. So while some signs from baby may be due to the formula, they also might not be, which doesn’t make the process easier. Signs that you shouldn’t ignore though – and again call your doctor right away – are a severe rash, blood in the stool, which can be either bright red, or causing it to either be dark or with black flecks or chunks, or chest congestion with mucus or wheezing after eating. These are more severe allergic reactions to formula that we’d want to adjust right away.
What about colic and acid reflux? Dr. Young shares that those are actually very normal and while we wish babies don’t have to suffer, their health is usually not in danger.
One more thing about calling your doctor– remember, they work for you! They are used to parents calling at all hours, and they’d much rather hear from you than not hearing from you until two days later when the problem has gotten worse. You’re not bothering your doctor, and if they make you feel as if you are, find a new provider.
More Questions & More Answers
We know that between last week and this blog post we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to everything there is to know about baby formula. Thankfully, that’s what BabyForumulaExpert.com is for! Here are some great resources Dr. Young has available, for free, on her site. Amazing information to bookmark for future reference.
- How to add probiotics to your baby’s diet.
- Does early formula supplementation hurt breast milk supply?
- Are age-specific formulas legitimate?
- Is name-brand formula better than a generic brand? Should I have formula ready for my newborn just in case I can’t breastfeed? And other frequently asked questions.
By the time you become well versed in formula options your little one will be starting to experiment with solids! When it comes to that phase we’ve got a guide in place for what to feed them and when.