More Bottlefeeding Multiples

Mixing and Heating Formula

Does anyone have any tips to make preparing large quantities of formula using powder mix easy and convenient? I've heard more than once that getting the right temperature is important before mixing. Did you find this to be true? If so, did it mess things up when you refrigerated it afterwards?

[Many of the responses give recipes. Please note that the ratios vary depending on the formula!]

I could do this in my sleep now! Here's what we use...
  • a big (72 ounces??) pyrex mixing bowl w/ handle and spout
  • a big wire whisk
  • boiled (and then cooled) water (we have a well)
  • similac w/ iron
We pour 58-64 ounces of water in the pyrex bowl, and then prop the whisk across it so that it is resting on the handle and the spout. We then count out the scoops of formula, dumping it *over the whisk*. We have found that to be the best way to get no lumps, b/c the whisk breaks it up as it falls through. Then we whisk it well, pour into bottles, and refrigerate until needed. (at which time we reheat in hot water from the tap.)

That's what we do *now*. When we first started, we microwaved the water to the perfect temp. that we read somewhere (105, maybe??) and used a candy thermometer until we were sure it was just right, and then mixed it. What a waste of time!! It mixes fine with room temp. water. I don't know about cold water, like from the tap or fridge. As I mentioned, we have a well, so we run our water through a Brita pitcher, boil it, and store it in clean juice jars. We boil up a whole batch on the weekend, so we don't have to fool with that during the week. That way it's always room temp and ready to mix!

I made up lots of formula & used our blender. I used bottled water w/ fluride at room temp. The blender mixed up the formula well with no lumps. I then filled bottles & made up an additional pitcher or so of formula to keep in the fridge. I usually made up 3 quarts of formula at a time which would last my twins about 2 days.

We've switched to milk (yea!), but here's how we made formula when we were drinking it:

We had two 1/2 gallon rubbermaid pitchers that had tight fitting screw-on tops. If you put 56.5 ounces of water [This will vary depending on the formula you use!] in each one (they're marked on the side), you can split an entire can of formula between them. That means you don't have to count... just alternate scoops. Use room temperature water or else it will be hard for the formula to dissolve (we have bottled water in a 5 gallon container at home, so that part was easy). You'll have to stop 2 or three times as you're putting the formula in to screw on the tops and shake them up. Once you're done, put them in the refrigerator and then shake them up again a couple of hours later.

That much formula lasted a little longer than two days (each baby was drinking 4 7oz bottles).

We use Mead-Johnson's ProSobee and found the 1 scoop to 2 ounces of water typical recommendation *impossible* to deal with. With this formula you can also make 2 quarts (mixed) with 2 cups (unpacked) of powdered formula. A much more realistic quantity when trying to feed two hungry babies! [Please note: This ratio does not apply to all formulas!]

I have never read anything about water temperature, and usually mix mine with lukewarm water, as this seems to mix the best (less clumping, etc.). I also use a blender to mix, since this also minimizes clumping. Put the powder into the blender, measure water in destination container, put quantity of water that will fit into blender, blend, pour back into original (larger) container. Dirties a couple of more items, but blender is wide mouthed which makes scooping formula easier and beats shaking for 10 minutes!.

We also found that we could buy *huge* (each makes 254 ounces, I think) cans of formula at BJ's (local wholesale club). Bigger cans and cheaper than anyone else - even Walmart.

We used to make up formula in Rubbermade quart containers. The formula directions say how much water to use for a cup of powder which makes (I think) almost a quart. We would warm the water in the microwave until it was fairly warm but not hot. We searched around and found a funnel with a wide opening which made it easier to add the powder to the container. Then just shake and shake! It got to be a typical evening scene, one or both of us watching TV and shaking the formula. In the morning before filling bottles we'd check the bottom for unmixed formula and maybe shake some more but usually it was fine.

We found the soy formulas to be harder to mix. And we always put the date on the container but we always used it up within 24 hours.

We made buckets of formula and filled 10 or 20 bottles at a time - however many bottles were clean and ready.

We used Enfamil and on the jumbo cans (2.5 lbs) they had a "recipe" for making quarts of formula. Use a fork or beater to mix (we used an electric mixer with one beater inserted) You need to refrigerate, of course, and use all the formula within 48 hours.

I made a LOT of powder formula! I would make up 8 cups at a time in our juice jug. You can convert the powder-to-water amount for the number of cups your juice jug holds. Write it down, you'll refer to it often! :). It's really easy to measure with those dry-measure cups, just use them like a scoop and level off the top with a table knife. First microwave 4 cups of water for 2 or 3 minutes, just to get it about body temperature. Pour the water in the juice jug. pour the measured formula onto the warm water. Mix it well with a whisk. Add the remaining water, no need to heat it. Store it in the refrigerator. As long as it is completely mixed in the warm water first, it stores well. With two little hungry ones, we went through the 8 cups in less than 24 hours so I didn't worry about spoilage!

I make it 8 bottles at a time. I just make it right in the bottles I measure out the water and then the powder. If the water is warm the powder seems to dissolve better. I shake it up and put it in the fridge, then when warming I shake it well again just to make sure everything is mixed well.

I used to mix mine up in two quart increments and use a wire whisk to mix it up. I didn't have any problem with foaming that way. What little did form went away quickly. I preferred the powdered formula because it was a lot cheaper to use.

I have now asked our marvelous pediatrician (who just this last Friday, at the 6 week checkup, because I mentioned that I had screwed up and scheduled the appointment right in the middle of their feeding, sat down and fed the boys with me, and we just shot the breeze--for about 15 minutes) and our nurse, who is a superb professional, what about this formula stuff.

I had a client come in and hang out with her baby one morning a month ago, and she just made the formula up, right there in the shop. Powder, add water, poof. Not what I though was appropriate, hence, the medico grilling.

So, the scoop from our MD and nurse is, with the heat of a dishwasher and the cleanness (Chlorine) of our water, boiling is not necessary. Get the temperature of the initial water hot enough to disolve the powder, and add cool water. My client didn't even use hot water. Just cool water from the cooler. Kid sucked it down, and MD & RN say it's OK.

Ergo, I've got one 8 oz, six 4 oz, and eight 2 oz bottles prepped--bags in the bigger ones, and powder in and nipples, rings, and caps on them all. Accordingly, if it's determined that we're not BF'ding them this feeding, all that needs to be done is to add water. 15 seconds over two minutes when the young ones scream. Which they're doing now. Geeze. 18 minutes away yet.

At first we mixed 4 bottles at a time and just took whatever we needed at each feed (I was supplementing-- in the beginning the amount of formula we used changed radically from day to day). We heated the old-fashioned way-- by setting the bottle in a cup of hot water. Watch out with disposables-- they heat very quickly!

Once we settled into a routine, it was much easier to mix each bottle when needed. We kept a bottle of cooled, boiled water on hand. We mixed this with boiling water (electric kettle helped immensely) to get the right temperature, then added formula (we didn't measure in the disposable bottles-- we found it hard to be accurate). We shook to mix-- occasionally we'd get some lumps in the nipple, but generally it worked fine.

We found the temperature was important for easy mixing with Similac-- we'd get huge lumps if the water was too hot. Room temperature boiled water worked reasonably well, but was still more lumpy than warm. Some powdered formulas aren't as temperature sensitive.


Are microwaves safe to use on bottles? One nurse says yes, just watch for hot spots, another says no, it'll break down the formula. Any advice?

We always heated the girls' bottles in the microwave. Just shake well. The only problem was that our first child got used to having the bottles an EXACT temperature. We would have to reheat it if it took her too long to finish it. What a pain - you can't feed a baby outside of the home like that - car trips were MISERABLE. With the twins, we've been using tap water since they were 6 weeks old (town water, not boiled). We would only warm it occasionally if it felt too cold. The twins take formula at any temperature these days. If you opt for the microwave option, I'd vary the temperature so they don't get finicky.

There is reason for caution certainly, but we were able to use it carefully and had no awful incidents w/ our 3 boys. Shake it well, don't leave it in long, and test it. Also, if you use the powdered formula (it's much cheaper), you can just use warm tap water & can forego the "nuking" thing. :-)

Go ahead, use the microwave. It doesn't break down the nutrients in formula any more than it would for regular food, and as long as you shake the bottle it won't leave any hot spots. However, as with any heated food, test it on yourself before you serve it.

Even better, feed your babies cold forumula. Once they were a couple of months old, our babies were delighted with it. It made a nice contrast with breast milk, which tastes different anyway. It also makes things easier when you're on the road or out shopping. Once they develop a taste for it cold, you've saved yourself a lot of time.

It may not be a good idea in some areas to not boil the water used to make formula. Even though our water is supposed to be ok, we still boil it, but don't use it until it has cooled to room temp. Our girls will take a slightly warm bottle, a room temp. bottle and a cool bottle (but not too cold). I also have tried to vary the temp. since they were small so that they wouldn't get "hooked" on warm bottles.

Sorry, I couldn't find the original post on this topic. Someone mentioned formula 'breaking down' when heated in a microwave. I've never heard of that--the nutritional value should remain the same. Many have mentioned the dangers of uneven heating and continued heating past the time you take it from the microwave--just use caution and test it yourself each time before giving bottles to babies. I think that perhaps the 'breaking down' thing relates to heating *breastmilk* in a microwave. It is true that the antibodies and other very beneficial properties of the breastmilk can be disrupted or 'broken down' by a microwave. It is highly recommended that breastmilk be heated the 'old- fashioned' way--warmed in the bottle in a pan of hot water--but do not apply heat directly. Frozen breastmilk should be allowed to thaw to room temperature and then warmed using this method. Also, if you live in a house where there may be lead in the pipes or faucets, you should always use cold water that has been left running for a minute or more for mixing powdered formula. Any potential lead is easily 'dissolved' in hot water flowing through the pipes or faucets and is added to any formula you mix for your babies using hot water from the tap. *Not* good. Hope this helps.


On the Road

I guess I thought that having raised twins for over 4 years now that I would have learned all the tricks... Well, this weekend I discovered one that I thought was worth passing along..

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.. We were taking our 5 girls plus 2 girls from Dh's first marriage camping and one of the things I was worried about was how to make warm bottles in the middle of a freezing night in a tent trailer.. I also wanted a way to make fresh (warm) bottles during the long drive. Bottle warmers weren't the solution because we couldn't plug anything in at night.. I called the store "The Lactation Station" to see what they had and they really wanted to sell me on a bottle wrap. "All you do is heat it in the microwave for a few seconds..." Did they think I was taking a microwave camping? :-) Finally we settled on buying an expensive thermos at an outdoor enthusiast's store. It was expensive (or so I thought) but we found out that it was one of the best things we ever purchased in the "baby needs" category. This stainless steel thermos can keep liquids boiling hot for more than 12 hours! We filled it with very hot water and would mix it with cooler bottled water when making a bottle.... It was such a handy thing to have heated water whenever we needed it that we now fill it and pack it in the diaper bag when we go out... just in case.

Good idea Nikki, wish I had thought of it when ours were babies and we were camping. Instead we made do with a travel bottle heater that plugged in the car's cigarette lighter. At night I had a small compressor that has a built in gel cell and cigarette lighter so we would not have to go out to the car, but you still had to wait and warm them up one at a time. When we went hiking we would just superwarm them first and wrap them in a couple of cloth diapers and they would be good for about 3 hours.

Another option to consider on the road:
"Shake it Up Bottle" #02200113 $6.95('97)
Dishwasher safe, holds 8 oz.
in The Right Start catalog
# 1-800-LITTLE-1
They have separate chambers... the powder goes in the top and the water in the bottom... and you just click the top part up and shake when ready to serve. The nice thing about them is that we keep them filled and ready to shake up in the diaper bag, and then wherever you are you've got a bottle right ready... no refrigeration, no messy pouring, no expensive ready to feed cans... they're great!



Several parents suggested using special baskets in the dishwasher for holding the nipples and bottle tops. (Available at Toys R Us and through the One Step Ahead catalog) Some use two baskets, so the parts can be pre-sorted. Others mix the nipples and tops, but have one basket for the clean ones and another to collect the used ones.

One of the nurses in the NICU told me not to put nipples in the dishwasher at all because it causes them to get hard. I'm not sure which nipples she was referring to (latex or silicone), but I haven't listened to her advice and I haven't had a problem. I toss out old nipples every so often anyhow.

We used the "anti-bacterial" dish soap that has just come out-- I don't really know if that helps, but our babies never seemed to have problems.

One thing we do to make the bottles easier to clean is to fill them up with water and let them soak until we have a big batch to clean. Sometimes we use the dishwasher for the bottles, but we always do the nipples by hand with a nipple brush and by forcing water through the hole with our thumbs. One thing we had to be careful of was making sure that all of the soap was rinsed from the bottles before we used them - otherwise, a lot of bubbles form when you shake the mixture up.


Switching to Milk

At what age did you stop giving your baby breast milk or formula? Did you introduce it gradually, or all at once? Did they notice the difference, either in taste or extra fussiness or gas?

I stopped breastfeeding at three months with the triplets, and stopped formula at one year, then switching to whole milk. I did not add it to the formula etc. just switched it on them and if they noticed they did not let me know! No problems with gas or fussiness. With my two older singletons, I stopped all formula and/or breastmilk at one year also, doing it the same way, just cold turkey with a switch to whole milk.

I switched them at 12 months. I would have done it earlier, but neither of my babies eat a whole lot, so I wanted to make sure they were getting the nutrition they need. One baby was on Isomil and one was on Similac. When I switched to milk, I went cold turkey with the first bottle in the morning. Both babies took to it immediately.

It is my understanding from what I've read, and from my pediatrician's advice, that you should not switch to regular milk until one year. There is a much higher sodium content that is hard on their kidneys, and more nutrition in the formula that is needed for development until other foods become a more substantial part of their diet. The expense is a problem, as we all know! But IMVHO you'd be better off waiting a little longer. Also, if they had any sensitivity to milk, mine had to have soy formula, the longer you wait, the less reactions later.

Mary Kae:
Contrary to most postings on this subject, I had two different pediatricians both recommend going off formula at age 9 months. I did this for both my singleton daughter and identical twin boys, and I had no problem whatsoever. The pediatricians were very different; one was in his late 30's and fresh from Columbia Medical School, the other was in his 60's with a more laissez-fare attitude toward contemporary feeding practices (e.g. he still advocated starting cereal at 6 weeks despite his younger colleagues telling me to wait until the kids were 4-6 months) but lots of practical years of experience. Personally we all have to face these choices with an eye to what's best for our children, but mine were completely ready to move from breast/bottle (I did half of each until my kids were weaned) to cow's milk cup at 9 months.

I switched my boys at about 10-10.5 months (after checking with the dr.), mainly because we were going on a 3-week holiday when they were about 11 months, and I wanted to try to avoid the lugging/buying formula and different water problems. I went the slow & steady route (again on dr.'s advice) -- started with 1/4 milk to 3/4 formula for a week, then 1/2 and 1/2 for about 5-6 days, then 3/4 to 1/4, then whole milk. I also use homo (whole) milk, although my dr. said 1% or 2% was OK, because they are still on a lot of baby food, so I want to make sure they are getting enough fat (that brain development thing - -- since my brain cells are gone, I'm hoping the boys can take over the "remembering where the glasses/car keys/etc. are" thing). Good luck!

Well, I'm from Europe (Holland) and we too are told to give our babies formula (adjusted after six months) until at least one year old! In fact, we also thought it was something to do with the companies profit, but both my nephew and my twins got very uncomfortable switching to cow's milk at about 9 months. They would spit a lot, hardly keep anything down and got rashes. Both my sister and I quickly switched back to giving them formula. No more problems!

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