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Bottlefeeding Basics: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of formula should I use?
The formula most parents start with is milk-based, fortified with iron, which is essential for babies. If a baby is not breastfed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends iron-fortified formula as the alternative. Deciding which type of formula to buy is up to you. The ready-to-use form is more expensive, but also the most convenient; the lightest and cheapest is powdered formula, which is also handy for traveling. Be assured that when mixing formula, water straight from the tap or a home filter is just fine.

What supplies do I need?
You'll need four 4-ounce bottles, eight 8-ounce bottles, 10 nipples, eight nipple rings, eight nipple covers and one bottle brush. Some bottles are shaped for an older baby's hand, while others are bent at the bottom to help keep air from being swallowed. Another type of bottle is disposable. The inside plastic lining comes out and is thrown away. Nipples come in several different configurations and are made of rubber, vinyl or silicone. They also vary in rate of flow. Some babies are fussy about the shape of the nipple they like. Others don't like to change from one shape to another, so once you find one that works, stick with it.

How much formula will my newborn drink?
From ages 2 to 6 months, an infant may drink about 24 to 32 ounces of formula every 24 hours, and young babies will need to drink around the clock, every two to four hours. As long as your baby's growth continues and you see at least six wet diapers per day, baby is getting enough. A formula-fed infant under 6 months should be drinking 2½ ounces of formula for each pound that baby weighs. That means a 10-pound infant needs about 25 ounces a day.

What if my baby doesn't tolerate formula?
If your baby shows signs of having trouble digesting formula—such as fussiness, gas, or diarrhea—talk to your pediatrician about switching to a special formula. These symptoms may mean that your baby is sensitive to lactose, a sugar that can be difficult for some babies to digest. If your baby shows signs of a milk protein allergy, such as colic, the doctor may recommend a hypoallergenic formula with no lactose. If baby is fussy, you may also want to experiment with different bottle types. There is an assortment of bottles on the market, each with a different shape, nipple, and size.

Can I add rice cereal to baby's formula?
Ignore the old advice to add rice cereal to baby's bottle—it changes the formula's nutritional balance. However, if the pediatrician thinks your baby could use a thicker formula, he may suggest a kind with an easily digestible rice starch added.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education