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In the early weeks you need to have a supply of bottles ready in the refrigerator so that whenever your baby cries, wanting to be fed, you can respond quickly and easily. Until your baby is at least nine months old, give him an infant formula. Most are modified cow's milk. Your pediatrician will help you choose a brand. You can upset your baby by switching brands, so never do so without professional advice.
Infant formula is most commonly and cheaply available as concentrated liquid or powder that can readily be mixed up as required. The instructions on the cans tell you the correct amount of liquid or number of scoops to add to each measure of water. It is very important to maintain these proportions exactly. If you add too much formula, the feeding will be dangerously concentrated: your baby may gain too much weight, and his kidneys may be damaged. If you consistently add too little powder, he may gain weight too slowly and eventually could become malnourished. The only occasion on which it is correct to dilute formula concentrations is when your baby brings up most of his feeding but shows no other signs of illness. Then, for the next few days, dilute the formula (see Vomiting, page 179). If your baby is not vomiting, follow the directions and allow him to take as much as he wants at each feeding.
Always use fresh, cold tap water to make up your baby's formula, and boil it once only. Some types of water should never be used:
- water that has been repeatedly boiled, or left standing in the kettle for more than an hour ortwo
- water from a tap with a domestic softener attached the extra sodium (salt) can damage your baby's kidneys
- water from a tap with a domestic filter attached - these filters can trap harmful bacteria
Some brands of infant formula are also available ready-mixed in cans. You need add no water. If the formula you are feeding your baby comes in this form, then you have a very convenient option. The formula in the cans has been ultra-heat treated (UHT), so it's already sterile. Store unopened cans in a cool place, and do not use after the "expiration" date. Once opened, the formula can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, either in a sterile, sealed bottle, or in the can, which must be covered. But unless you can be sure that you won't forget when you put the can in the refrigerator, it's probably safer to pour all the formula into clean, ready to use bottles. Throw away any he doesn't drink after each feeding.
How much will my baby want?
Babies' appetites vary from day to day. During the first weeks of life put 4fl. oz. (125m1.) of formula into each of six bottles, and see how that matches your baby's appetite. As he gains weight, he will often cry for more at the end of a feeding, so gradually increase the amount you put into each bottle. By the time he is six months old you will be making up bottles of 7fl. oz. (200ml.). As a rough guide, your baby needs about 2-1/2fl. oz. of formula per pound (150ml. per kg.) of body weight every 24 hours. So if a 12lb. (5.5kg.) baby is on sixfeedings a day, he may take about 5fl. oz. (140ml.) of formula at each feeding.
Demand vs scheduled bottles
It takes weeks and often months for babies to settle into predictable feeding schedules.At first, your baby may be hungry every half hour, then every two, three, or four hours. In years past, mothers were advised to follow strict four-hour feeding schedules, withholding bottles until the appointed hour had arrived. Nowadays, both pediatricians and mothers take a softer approach and believe that babies should take the lead as far as schedules are concerned. By ten weeks, most babies are close to an eating pattern of every three or four hours. If your baby is cranky right after draining a full bottle or within an hour, try burping her or offering some cool, sterile water in a bottle.
Should I give anything else?
Most bottle-fed babies don't need anything but formula for the first six months of life. Some doctors recommend vitamin and mineral supplements or additional fluoride, but do check first. Too many vitamins can make your baby sick.
The majority of doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics generally suggest holding off on solid foods until at least five or six months of age. You may be tempted to try some cereal in your baby's diet if he appears not to be satisfied with just formula, but until he can let you know that he wants more or less food, pushing solids can amount to force-feeding, so be patient.
Copyright ) 1990 by Dorling Kindersley Limited, London