After last week’s post about how we chose to feed Howie formula for mental health reasons, I got asked by several folks on social media what some of my favorite formula feeding tools and tips were. I’m putting together this blog post to talk about my five big favorite tools and tips that made formula feeding a breeze for us.
- Formula Pro Advanced Baby Formula Dispenser by Baby Brezza – I put our formula dispenser as number one on the list for a reason. Every member of our family who cared for Howie over the last year agreed that our Baby Brezza was our best purchase. Well, second best if you consider the Owlet Sock Monitor that likely saved Howie’s life. Still, this tool is up there. I wouldn’t do formula feeding without it. Let me give you some background on why we ended up purchasing this tool. First, I have to tell you that my partner worked for many years in HR at Babie’s R Us. Despite not having any children, he knew the ins and outs of baby gear like nobody else I knew. He could spout ratings on strollers, car seats, and other items off the top of his head. We might be out somewhere and see some stranger’s kid in a stroller and he’d start going on and on about whether that stroller passed whatever safety ratings and how popular it was. Naturally, he was very opinionated on baby gear. He thought he knew what all the necessary items were because he often saw what items were frequently returned, what things customers complained about, what things never worked as advertised. He was convinced that if I did formula, you just warm up the water in the microwave and that any tools to help with bottle making were a giant waste of money. That’s why, when I heard about Baby Brezza I decided to make the purchase on my own. I knew he wouldn’t be impressed. Still, I bought it anyway. Unlike him, I had the experience of nannying for newborns and taking care of many babies in my time. For some babies, when they’re hungry they are HUNGRY! So anything that could make bottle-making a breeze, especially at 2 am, was something I wanted. This thing is like the Keurig of baby bottles. You pre-load the formula and water, create your settings for water temp, and then whenever you need a bottle, you select the ounces and press start. It mixes a perfect bottle in less than 30 seconds. Bottle making made simple. It made it easy for us to have other caregivers in the house because they didn’t need to worry about temperatures, ounces, and other details. We could set all of that in advance and all they needed to do was feed. I cannot recommend this product enough. It saves so much time, especially when you have a screaming baby who wants to be fed right at that very moment and has no patience to wait on you to do the whole microwave set up, measuring, and all that on your own.
- Dr. Brown’s Bottles – In my years nannying I cleaned many of these. You know these bottles, they are the ones with all the tiny little parts. The ones you need special tiny brushes to cleanout. In other words, they are a giant pain to clean. I desperately wanted to avoid using these so I tried all the other bottles I could. The truth is, we needed these. The vent system in these is necessary for reducing gas, spit-up, colic, and all that fun stuff. You don’t realize how big a deal gas is until you have a baby who has it. Gas bubbles will keep those babies up all night, crying and screaming. You WILL lose sleep over gas. Even if you don’t have a baby with colic, one bad night of gas can still majorly throw off your day. Even though these are my least favorite bottles to clean, they are my favorite bottles for sanity. It only took us about a week of Howie being gassy as a newborn to give up all the other bottles we had and default to these.
- When to Size Up in Bottle Nipples – This is one of the trickier parts of formula feeding. You have to adjust the flow as your baby grows. Bottle nipples for Dr. Brown’s come in 0+, 3+, 6+, 9+, and 12+ sizes by month. I found the pacing pretty accurate. Sometimes we’d try a size up only to find out it was too fast-flowing and Howie wasn’t ready. We knew he was ready if it took forever and he felt frustrated. He would be less interested in a bottle because it would be way more frustrating for him to suck it down when he needed a faster flow. I recommend keeping the next size up on hand no matter what bottle you use. That way when you start to notice that bottle frustration you can try it and know if it’s time. Paying attention to a small detail like this will make formula feeding much easier overall.
- Bottle Handles – At some point, your kiddo will be ready to hold a bottle on their own. I’ve found the slender bottle that Dr. Brown’s makes can be harder for babies to hold, so we invested in a few of these bottle handles during that transition to help.
- Paced Feeding – When you’re formula feeding it can seem like you just snuggle up to your newborn on your lap and stick a bottle in and you’re done. It looks easy, right? Well for us, after a couple of nights at home doing this we found ourselves with a screaming newborn who wasn’t sleeping at all. After consulting a friend who knew a lot more about newborns than I did, she suggested Paced Feeding. Paced Feeding mimics breastfeeding. It regulates the flow instead of just dumping a bottle down, but it also requires the baby to sit upright to help manage the flow. This helps so much with gas and colic. As soon as we started using this method with Howie, our feedings, his sleep, and our sleep went much smoother. I’ve linked a resource I watched a few times and we shared with friends and family who were also participating in feeding. Even if your baby doesn’t have colic, this is an excellent method of feeding that can help with all kinds of newborn gas-type stuff.