Formula feeding your baby can be a wonderful way to bond with your new one (and have other’s bond with your baby too). But making baby formula all day every day comes with it’s unique challenges. Here’s how to simplify your formula feedings with nine formula feeding hacks you can start using today.
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1. Don’t Warm the Water.
And really, you should do this from the jump if you can. Room temperature bottles are perfectly fine. Both my babies never required warmed water and it made the process of making a bottle in the middle of the night that much faster.
Plus, when we were on the go, we never had to bring “hot water” or stress about if the baby wouldn’t eat because it was too hot or too cold.
2. Prep Night-Time Bottles Before You Go to Bed.
Every night I’d fill a plain water pitcher of filtered water, and scoop out the formula into the bottles ready to go. This saves me from making any mistakes with how much formula I scooped in my sleepy haze. Also, if you’ve ever wondered “do formula fed babies sleep longer?” then I’ve got all the info you’ll need here.
And also made it so all I needed to do was pour, shake, feed.
3. Make a Batch of Formula In Advance.
This really only works if you’re the warming up formula kind of family (since mixed formula must be refrigerated after an hour) but I tried this for a bit and found it helpful for the days when we had company or were hosting parties. Also, if you’re wondering if you can or how often can you reheat baby formula, check out my article on this specific topic as well.
A batch of formula does have a quick expiration date (about 24 hours) so make sure to time your batches and even mark when you made them so you don’t accidentally give your baby tummy troubles with an expired batch in a sleepy haze.
You can use these labels to erase and re-write with a fresh date/batch. (bonus they’re washable so you never have to replace them! I even use a sharpie on them and it comes off with a wet paper towel!)
4. Get Big Brother or Big Sister To Help Make Formula
This is a really helpful way to include an older sibling in the formula feeding process. The birth of a second child is a pretty big event for the first one too! Something that a lot of exclusive breastfeeding parents just can’t do. If it’s age appropriate have them help you make a bottle.
I often would have my oldest help me “put the bottles together” when I took them out of the dishwasher. He would sort them and help me assemble them. This was a great way for him to feel like a helper (and in some cases actually WAS helpful).
5. Prepare Ahead for On-The-Go Feedings.
I have used a number of storage options for on the go feedings ranging from little cups to Tupperware salad dressing cups to plastic bags. Whatever works for you go with that.
These were relatively handy and I liked that they were re-usable (and cheap!).
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In the end, I found that plastic portion control snack bags (such as these) with formula pre-portioned and then stored inside a clean bottle was the fastest way of getting formula into a bottle when we’re out an about. The width of the bags made it so I could stick the whole thing in the bottle and then dump without making a mess or losing precious formula gold.
This was especially useful when we were traveling because I could pack tons of extras in a larger ziplock bag and measure out “snack portions” and larger portions too.
I also carried a bottle of water along with filtered water so I never had to worry about temperature or making sure the water was okay for consumption.
6. Learn About Different Nipple Sizes
You’ll start your baby on the “lowest” nipple size for the type of bottle that you’re feeding your baby with. And you may not even realize that this is something that will need to change. After about 3 months your baby may seem fussy at feedings, frustrated that the milk isn’t coming out fast enough and even pushing the bottle away from him.
This could be a sign that your baby is ready to upgrade to the next “nipple size” which has a slightly larger opening to allow for the formula to flow.
We used these Playtex Ventaire Bottles and they had slow, medium, and fast nipple sizes. The same issue happened again around 7 months where my baby was seemingly annoyed that the food wasn’t coming out fast enough so we upgraded to the fast nipple and boom, he sucked down his food and was happy as a clam.
7. Don’t Experiment with Formulas
Unless advised to do so by a pediatrician, once you pick a formula that works for your baby, try to stick with it. That said, if you find out that your baby is lactose-intolerant, definitely read this guide about the best organic non dairy baby formula.
Infants and babies have very sensitive digestive tracts and the slightest changes to what they’re eating can create numerous issues including gas, constipation, and excess spit up.
If you do need to switch to a lower cost formula or to a special dietary formula it’s best to introduce it slowly over time, combining the two formulas with a ratio of say, ⅓ of the new formula mixed with ⅔ of the old formula for a few days to see how your baby adapts.
Then switch the ratio to 50/50 and so on all the way to the new formula.
If baby seems to be doing fine then congrats! You’ve got yourself a new formula. If at any point they seem to be experiencing discomfort it’s best to resort back to the old formula while you assess other options.
8. Also, Don’t Experiment with Bottles
Bottles and specifically nipples are pretty important. When your baby finds one that they love, that provides the food in a steady stream that limits extra air bubbles you’re gonna want to keep that bottle for life.
We used these Playtex Ventaire bottles that I mentioned above which are specifically designed to minimize additional air bubbles, but a lot of formula feeding moms swear by Dr. Browns bottles for many of the same reasons I loved Playtex.
Ultimately whatever is the most cost-effective for you, helps your baby minimize extra air intake, is easy to prepare and can be easily washed and stored is going to be the bottle you want to start with.
If baby struggles in any way that’s when you’ll want to try out a few other bottle options.
Fun fact: My mil got in my head about plastic for my baby and I started off with glass bottles and silicone nipples. Which my baby DID NOT LIKE and which made his acid reflux so much worse. While I started out with good intentions, plastic bottles were just fine in the end. Especially if you hand wash them (But no judgement if you throw them in the dishwasher too).
9. Stock Up On Other Formula Feeding Supplies
Formula, because it is traditionally made with cows milk, can be a bit harder for your baby to digest. To make it easier, opt for some things you can add to your baby’s bottle to make digestion easier.
These gas drops were a lifesaver in the early months when our baby’s digestive tract was maturing.
I also alternated between a few different probiotic formulas but ultimately ended up with these: a 1/4th scoop in the first bottle of the morning or the last bottle at night every day kept constipation at bay.
10. Hacks for Cleaning Baby Bottles
Shockingly this OXO TOT little dishwasher bin was THE PERFECT SIZE for washing bottles and parts in the dishwasher for the Playtex bottles. I’d slip the nipples in the top red container, and everything else in the middle of it. And I prefer it to the Munchkin one that’s twice the price. Hands down it holds more parts, so you can wash more in one go. https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=dgafmom0e-20&language=en_US&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01BVEF986&asins=B01BVEF986&linkId=2554d1ddd864572528be7db95c0f005a&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true
I used to use the little grass drying rack for handwashing bottles, but ya’ll. YOU HAVE TO WASH IT TOO! I know. Maybe I was in my sleepy haze but like a full couple of months went by before I thought to lift up the “grass” and it was nasty.
This is why ultimately I came to prefer this one – I can easily see any water that’s left any residue and also I loved that it’s at an angle so it drains it away from your precious baby’s bottles. Hot tip, it also becomes a very excellent drying rack for wine glasses as well if I do say so myself.
11. Consider The Baby Brezza
If you’re interested in checking out the Baby Brezza then you need to ignore my number one hack (about warming the bottles) because this baby formula Keurig style mixer kicks out the perfect temperature bottles.
But please be aware – there is a class action suit against Baby Brezza that as of the update of this post is ongoing (the suit was filed in February 2021 and is claiming that there were ongoing known issues of not mixing the formula appropriately).
When my boys were in the formula feeding state this was a new device so it wasn’t on our radar. But for the formula-feeding moms who have come after me, they have a love, LOVE relationship with it and swear by it.
It appears that Baby Brezza, in response to these allegations, has created a new and they claim an improved version of the machine, but it’s still important that you research before you invest in this device.
All this being said, if you have the means, and want to try it out Baby Brezza has an entire suite of bottles, sanitizing tools, and more.
For some families, this might be the one-stop-shop for formula feeding hacks.
12. Accessing WIC for Formula
If you or your family has come under financial hardships or challenges, please know that you can have often free access to quality formula through your local WIC office.
“WIC is The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.”
Wick means to safeguard the health and well-being of low-income families who may be at risk of nutritional deficits. You can read more here and apply.
If you qualify you’ll be either reimbursed for a monthly supply of formula or provided coupons to purchase formula at a severely discounted price depending on your state and your qualifying for the program.
Check out this calculator to figure out how much you may be able to receive.
About half of the infants born in the US are serviced or fed through WIC. Which I personally find equal parts amazing, and heartbreaking.
If you are not in need of WIC support, please consider a tax-deductable donation to their foundation here.
13. How to Get Free (Or Deeply Discounted) Formula
It’s no surprise that formula can be very expensive. Especially if you’ve opted for an organic or unique brand.
You’ve got choices when it comes to sourcing discounted or, at times, free formula.
Choice #1: Your pediatrician. I was lucky in that my pediatrician always had more formula than she knew what to do with, and any time I went in for our checkups, all I had to do was say the magic words “do you have any extra formula?” and she’d load me up with a box full of the brand I used.
Pro tip this is also a great way to test out formulas if you suspect your baby is having trouble digesting the formula you’ve been using, or if you’re new to the formula feeding game. When we were dealing with infant acid reflux in our baby, this helped us figure out a formula that didn’t make him super sick.
Choice #2 for where to get free formula – Request samples from the formula companies. You can do so here for Enfamil, and here for Similac. Both companies also offer rewards programs where you can redeem additional coupons.
Choice #3 for where to get free formula – This is actually multiple places but call your local food bank, contact your local churches, or any local women’s facilities that may collect. Be sure to put your name on the list for future donations as well. Don’t be afraid to post in mom’s facebook or next door groups for coupons or additional resources that I’m not aware of local to your area.
14. Warming the Bottles On the Go (If You Must)
If you’re already firmly in the baby prefers warm bottles category of formula feeding, then you need this hack.
You’ve got CHOICES when it comes to warming bottles on the go.
Choice #1 – Head to that Starbucks/McDonalds/ etc drive-through and ask them for some plain hot water – most places are very happy to help you – especially if you mention that you’re warming up a baby bottle.
Choice #2 – Warmer mugs such as this one from Tommee Tipee to warm on the go. Or this pack that stores nicely in your car and uses your car’s charger to warm insulation inside to warm the bottle on the go.
Choice #3 – Invest in a water bottle that is the correct width/size to accommodate boiling hot water, and your baby’s bottle. Something like this or even this. The idea is you fill that sucker up with boiling water when you leave and when it’s time to re-heat cold formula, or to warm up room temp formula on the go, slide it in and give it a few minutes to come to temp.
Always test a little on a sensitive part of your skin (like your inner wrist) before serving to baby. And be sure to shake to make sure there are no hot spots that might burn baby’s tongue.
The Stanley water bottles are great because they come with a little serving cup so even if the bottle doesn’t fit inside, you can pour a little into a cup that might (if the serving cup/lid fits your bottles BONUS, otherwise bring another small mug/cup along for the warming part.)
15. Go Hands-Free
The Beebo hands free bottle holder came along after my boys were firmly out of the formula feeding game but I’ve heard it’s helpful for SOME moms (large chested mommas, this gets a little trickier).
The Beebo Hands Free Bottle Holder, Upgraded – New and Improved, Teal | Baby Bottle Holder – Suitable for Most Bottle Sizes, Enhance Feeding Time for Parents and Caregivers| Anti Slip Free Hand Bottle Buy on Amazon
If baby is old enough to hold his own bottle, usually somewhere around 6 months old, using a boppy propped on the floor is all you need to get some hands-free formula feeding.
This is especially helpful if you have a second kid or more who need additional attention, or if you’re feeding twins, or even if you want to grab a quick workout in while the baby eats. Just be sure to keep an eye on your baby.
It’s important to not let them drink completely reclined as it can lead to an increased risk of ear infections. (We experienced this first hand with our baby, ugh).
Formula Feeding Has So Many Benefits
Whether you’re new to formula feeding or choosing to formula feed your sixth baby, there are so many benefits to feeding your baby formula. Hopefully, these hacks can get you some more sleep, some more time, and also keep your baby fed and healthy. And if you’ve ever wondered “do formula fed babies sleep longer?” then read on! I’ve got tons of info on that too.
Do me a favor, if this has been helpful at all, please pin it to Pinterest so that other mommas may see these tips as well.
Below is a cute pin for you to do just that.