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Solved! The 4 Most Agonizing Problems for Formula Feeding Parents

It’s not easy being a formula-using parent these days. There are emotional tags that society has placed on those who provide their child’s nutrition out of a can. Fortunately, I’m here to help you overcome those Cliffs of Insanity!

I’m going to go over the four problems for formula feeding that parents struggle over the most, and answer. each. one.

Ready to feel a gentle reassuring breeze of self-confidence blow your way?

Problems for Formula Feeding Parents #1:
Are We Second-Class Parents?

Breast is best. 

I hate that phrase.

Not because it’s isn’t true. It IS true. Technically. From a simple nutritional perspective, breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby.

No, my problem with the phrase “Breast is best,” isn’t the phrase, it’s how that phrase is used.

Oftentimes there’s an agenda dangling unspoken from the other side of the period: “Breast is best. (And shame on you if you don’t give THE BEST to your baby…)” 

It just feels too simple. Like you’re looking at life as a black-and-white photo where everything can be categorized into “Best” and “Worst.” But life is more like a Picasso than a paint-by-numbers project. It’s a beautifully complicated mess of colors that can take a while to “get.”

Sometimes breastfeeding fits the life-painting perfectly. Sometimes it doesn’t…and that’s okay.  

If you struggling with feeling guilty or shameful about your feeding choice, I would encourage you to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Are you feeding your baby on a regular basis?
  2. Is your doctor comfortable with what you are feeding your baby?
  3. Are you meeting your baby’s physical and emotional needs?

These are the questions that really matter.  If you can answer YES! to all three of those questions, everything else is gravy. 🙂

Problems for Formula Feeding Parents #2:
Did We Start with the Right Formula?

Once you’ve gotten past the emotional hurdles of using baby formula, you’re left with the next obvious question:  Did I start with the right one?  After all, there are hundreds.  (And I’m not even counting the off-brands!)

As Lewis Carroll advises, the best place to start anything is at the beginning. Ask yourself a few basic questions.

How Important is the Word “Organic?”

If four out of the five fruits and vegetables in your fridge have an “organic” sticker on them, it makes sense that you’ll want to make your baby’s formula organic.

The problem with formula feeding an organic formula, though, is that there are so many organic options. I’ve found the clearest standard of the word “organic” is to steal from the Europeans. 

Europe practices Biodynamic Organic Farming, which is like organic farming on steroids. (All natural steroids, of course.)

  • The entire ecosystem of the farm is considered and maintained: soil, seeds, plants, animals, and humans.
  • No pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used in the soil. (Just nature’s favorite fertilizer, poo.)
  • There is no genetic modification of plants or animals (GMO’s).
  • Certain processing practices (or ingredients) are also prohibited.

The best place for Americans to purchase European baby formulas is at Organic Baby Food based in Germany. You can buy the formula in bulk (which is cheaper) and they can send them over to you within just a few days.

For more information on how to read labels and purchase European baby formula, check out my other article 3 Reasons American Parents are Loving European Baby Formula.

How Important is the Word “Budget?”

If you are concerned about the impact of your baby’s formula on your budget, the best way to save money is to purchase standard formulas like Similac Optigro in bulk on Amazon and have it auto-shipped. (In that linked example, you can save $25 a month buying bulk over individual cans.)

How Important is the Word “Digestion?”

Your infant’s digestion will either give you a happy bubbly baby or an inconsolable screamer. Acid reflux, constipation, and gassiness are your worst enemies when it comes to contentment and sleep.

If your previous babies struggled with these issues, or if a family history makes you suspect it’s on the horizon, you may want to consider Kabrita’s Goat Milk Formula. Formulas adapted from goat’s milk (instead of cow’s milk) have been shown to form a lighter curd in the stomach, making digestion a LOT easier.

Plus, many parents have reported that their children preferred the naturally sweeter taste of goat’s milk. Currently Kabrita only makes a toddler formula, which means your child needs to be over 6 months old and supplementing with solid foods. If you’re interested, click here and try it for free.

The label says 12 to 24 months, but after a 2-hour discussion with the Kabrita nutritionist, I was told the formula is nutritionally balanced for any child over 6 months who has started supplementing their diet with solid foods.

Problems for Formula Feeding Parents #3:
When Should We Try a New Formula?

Once you’ve chosen the baby formula to try, the very next thought that’s going to flit through your head is inevitably:  Would things be better if I switched to a different formula?

Some babies will happily drink anything, with hardly any unpleasant side effects. Other babies though, they’re like that food critic in Ratatouille: a Mr. Grumpy Pants who hates 99% of everything. The challenge is to find that mysterious 1% that fits him perfectly!

Here are the signs that a formula switch may be on your horizon:

  • Draws legs into the tummy and cries really hard until passes gas.
  • Is constantly constipated – the poop is thicker than peanut butter
  • Burps or passes gas ALL the time
  • Is much fussier than normal and has a strange rash (could be a formula allergy!)
  • Spits up after almost every meal (check for acid reflux)
  • Projectile vomits (shoots across the room like a hose)
  • Is fine after eating, but will wake up screaming or gets really fussy about 20-30 minutes after eating.

Keeping a Feeding Journal

As you’re feeding him, jot down how much he’s eating, when, and any “side effects” later on. (Don’t worry, this isn’t forever! Just for a few weeks as you test out the formula.)

This feeding diary is very important for three reasons:

  1. Especially if you have a newborn, your doctor is going to want to know exactly how much he’s eating. You won’t just “remember.” Trust me. Your exhausted brain is tired. Write it down.
  2. Logging helps you spot rhythms and patterns to your day. These important clues can help you figure out why he’s crying.
  3. Tracking what he eats can be useful later, when you’re noticing he’s got diarrhea or constipation and you’re trying to figure out how that happened.

If you start to notice strange poo colors, if your baby starts arching his back, or shows other signs of discomfort, it may be time to take the next step in finding the perfect formula, which translates into our next “problem.”

Problems for Formula Feeding Parents #4:
Which Formulas Should We Switch To?

If you decide you need to make a switch, your next step on the “Perfect Baby Formula Path” would be to work your way up the brand’s ladder.

For example, was your baby using the European organic formula HiPP? Give HiPP HA (Hypoallergenic) a try. Were you giving him Similac Optigro? Give him Similac Pro-Sensitive instead.

I would recommend taking three days when addressing the common problems for formula feeding.

  • Day One: 25% New Formula, 75% Old Formula (or breastmilk)
  • Day Two: 50% New Formula, 50% Old Formula (or breastmilk)
  • Day Three: 75% New Formula, 25% Old Formula (or breastmilk)
  • Day Four: 100% New Formula

This method reduces the amount of extra gas and discomfort that can happen when your baby is trying to digest a new type of formula.

No. More. Shame.

There’s a common thread woven throughout all four of those problems for formula feeding parents. Did you catch it?

It’s fear.

Fear choosing the right formula, or knowing how to correct a mistake if you didn’t. There’s fear about whether or not you really are a good parent. 

Let me ask you something. Do you feel like you have to start every baby-feeding conversation with “I didn’t make enough breastmilk…” or “I know I should have…” or find some other acceptable excuse for why you’re not the terrible formula-feeding mother you’re afraid everyone else assumes you are?

The truth is, breastfeeding is a feeding lifestyle. Yes, it’s a great way to love and care for your baby. It’s just not the only way to love and care for your baby.

I encourage moms to give it a try, but all parents have to weigh the pros and cons for that lifestyle by themselves.

You are more than just your feeding choice, whatever that choice is.

Doubt me?  Take a look at that sweet slobbery smile. 

He thinks you’re doing an awesome job.

What else matters? 🙂

Have You Read These Yet?’

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31 thoughts on “Solved! The 4 Most Agonizing Problems for Formula Feeding Parents

  1. Love this website, thanks for all that great info.  I was wondering if you could shed any light on our situation.

    My baby is 11 weeks old and was BF for the first 5 weeks while supplementing with formula.  We initially tried the infant Similac which made him scream from gas pains, then he did better with Enfamil Gentlease, but was still fussy until we switched to the Gerber Gentle Good Start RTF.  He did pretty well on that with the Gerber Colic Drops until about a week-week and half ago.

    Now all of a sudden instead of eating his 4 oz easily, he’d start screaming in pain at the start of the feed, or within half of it, usually after having 2 oz.  It becomes a constant struggle to get him to finish a meal.  Sometimes I have to swaddle him, sing to him, give him breaks, etc for him to finish eating.  Our pediatrician had us switch to Nutramigen 4 days ago, so we are giving it a week to determine if it helps.  He is still very inconsistent when he cries during meals, but seems less fussy when he’s not being fed.  He’s gaining well, almost 2 oz a day so the doctor isn’t concerned.

    Our pediatrician gave us a script for Zantac in the case that Nutramigen doesn’t help within a weeks time, and then I think I would prefer to go back to Gerber Gentle or maybe try Soothe since he seemed to prefer the taste better.  If you have any advice that would be great.  Does it sound like reflux to you? He spits up but nothing excessive.  The biggest problem is the crying/screaming during feeds, although I noticed when he’s sleepy he eats better.

    Thanks in advance!

    Holly

    1. Holly,

      It does sounds like acid reflux and that can often show up at around 3 months. If you decide that Nutramigen is not the way you want to go then you might want to try Gerber Soothe since it is easy to digest and has probiotics in the formula. Here’s an article about how to do the switch.
      You could also go ahead and start him on probiotic drops. They have been proven to help little ones with acid reflux. Do you have a Rock N Play? It’s a good idea to find a way to keep his head elevated (20-30 minutes after each feed) and the Rock N Play is one way to do that. Also, you can try a baby carrier for an easy way to keep him elevated and keep your hands free.

      Hope this helps your little guy!

    1. Asia,

      I highly recommend Heather’s sleep workshops. They are live workshops so you will get a chance to talk to Heather. She will help you come up with a sleep plan that works for your family!

  2. Hello my son is about to be on in 11 days and he is on lactaid regular milk.. But he has been extremely gassy for over a week now… When he was first put on the milk the gas stopped now its back plz help

    1. Asia – I found this article about the differences between milk and lactaid. You may already know all this, but for the sake of other readers, I thought I’d include it.

      If he’s on Lactaid, that means your doctor suspects a milk allergy — which puts you out of my sphere of knowledge. I’m not qualified to give any advice on this situation, unfortunately. Give your doctor a call, firstly. Am I remembering right – that he’s already on probiotics? If not, ask your doctor about that also. Also, ask your doctor about long term…is it possible that his gas right now is linked to something else? Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but perhaps this will give you a few things to ask about!

  3. My son pediatrician said that I can try him on lactaid milk since his stomach has been so gassy from the formula…. My question to u is how should I change him to it without it hurting his stomach

    1. Asia,

      Try doing it gradually over a couple of days. Start with a bottle or two that has 25% of the lactaid and 75% of what you have been using (formula?). After that try a couple bottles at 50%/50% then a couple at 75% of the lactaid and only 25% of what you have been using. If everything goes well you will have made the switch in two days.

  4. How can I help my son sleep better at night…. Last night he was a little gassy but he is still on the same formula he was on… Please help he is 10 months

  5. My babe is almost 10 months and he still experience gas I changed his milk to alimemtum and I also got probiotic drops and it hasn’t changed I was wondering would it hurt him if I go ahead and put him lactaid milk

    1. Asia,

      Since this involves a question of nutrition for your little one this is a good question to take to your doctor!

      ~Danielle

  6. Ok thank u I will do that…he is a little better but still seems like its only hard to pass the gas when he is asleep…. Strange right????

    1. I’m not sure if it matters when you give them, but just in case why don’t you do a test? Give the drops to him in the evening for a week, making a note of how he’s doing. Then the next week switch to the morning and see if you notice any changes. 🙂

  7. OK thank u I got some drops that r supposed to b Gerber soothe colic probiotic drops have u ever heard of them and do u think they good????

  8. O Ok n yes he is teething really bad is there something I can get to help besides probiotic drops…. N are the probiotic drops for the left over gas in his intestines

  9. Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for being such an amazingly helpful and positive resource in regards to formula feeding. My second child was life flighted to a NICU at a day old and we just never could get back to breast. I am struggling with feeling so guilty about it (especially since we are having bad reflux issues while trying to find a formula) so the information you give is super helpful and it makes me feel so much better. Plus you are incredibly funny. So thank you for what you do. It’s making this momma feel a lot better about things. 🙂

    1. I so glad it could encourage you Ellen! That’s some scary stuff you went through, I’m so thankful that it sounds like things are improving! The worst things we can do as moms is to guilt-trip ourselves about things we cannot control. 🙂 They are absolutely blessed to have such a good mom – who’s willing to do whatever it takes, even if we feel bad about the end result. There’s a whole lot more to mothering than feeding choices. Glad to hear that this article helped lay those little nagging messages of shame and doubt to rest! xo

  10. Ok can you tell me why he does good doing the day and the gas does not bother him but when he go to sleep it wakes him up.. Please help

    1. Asia,
      I just realized that this is the third comment you have left and I didn’t see the other two, sorry about that!
      You don’t need a doctors’s prescription for probiotic drops. You can order them at Amazon.com
      I don’t know why the gas is worse at night but I know that is true of a lot of things…teething for one!

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