Making up formula feeds in the real world

Mixing up formula is a faff. Fact.IMG_7658
Once upon a time organised mums across the land would busy themselves of a morning preparing the feeds for the day, stored as a neat row of bottles in the fridge door. And then one day, something happened to someone, somewhere and overnight the game changed. Suddenly getting yourself organised and prepared for the day ahead became, in some vague and undefined way, a threat to the life of your baby. The advice on the side of the formula boxes now expressively state that milk shouldn’t be mixed up in advanced and stored. Jolly good.
So just for the uninitiated I thought I’d summarise the instructions on the side of a box of formula; in this case a box of Aptamil as it’s the brand I use.
1)      Wash hands and sterilise all utensils (fair enough)  
2)      Boil freshly run water. Leave kettle to cool for 30 minutes (why not paint your nails or read a book while you wait?)
3)      Measure required amount of water into sterilised bottle (good luck if you’re using Dr Brown’s bottles, the numbers on the side are invisible to the naked eye)
4)      Add required scoops of powder (remember to count out loud, nothing more irritating than getting halfway and thinking ‘er, was that 6 or 7? Start again’)
5)      Put the lid on the bottle and shake it for 10 seconds (one silly second, two silly second….)
6)      Cool bottle under running tap, check temperature, feed immediately (no kidding, like you’re going to want to delay feeding your baby having made them wait this long…)
Now, the kind people at Aptamil, they missed out a couple of steps there. Including the one where you have to consult your crystal ball to tell you exactly when you need to put the kettle on, and then the step at the end where you scrape the screaming baby off the ceiling as the whole process described has probably taken about 45mins and 10 seconds to complete…..don’t forget the 10 seconds.
From what I can fathom this whole ‘mix it up and feed it immediately’ business has everything to do with the fact that milk powder isn’t sterile and the makers can’t guarantee that if its left lying around for hours that it might end up being a petri dish for microbes. Fair enough, but quite what leaving a boiled kettle to relax for 30 minutes and then watching literally gallons of clean drinking water disappear down a plughole as you finish cooling the bottle is meant to achieve, I’m not at all sure.  
So, like pretty much all the mums I know I’ve developed my own variation on the above which I believe is simpler without compromising on safety.* This technique works best once you’ve established a bit of regularity to feeding, in the very early days I’d say to any new mum just use premixed formula. I know it’s expensive, but why make life even more difficult for yourself?  

In the morning I boil some freshly run water and fill a couple of sterilised plastic bottle, this becomes the cooling agent for the formula mix in the day, sometimes I keep it in the fridge.
Then each time I need to mix a feed (at home) I boil some more water and pour about an inch or two onto the measured out power in the bottle, then I top it up with the cooled boiled water, and hey presto, a fully mixed ready to drink bottle and the whole process takes about 7 minutes. Now and then if I find it is still a bit hot to feed immediately I just put the bottle in a bowl of cold water. So you can add 5 minutes on the process. At night or if I’m out and about I fill a small thermos flask with boiling water to replace the kettle. I find that whilst I can and sometimes do make up feeds just with cooled boiled water, the powder dissolves better with less scope for lumps if I use boiling or close to boiling water.

Now, in my opinion logic would dictate that if you are using boiling water straight onto the powder surely there can be no reason not to store the mixed up feed in the fridge for the day, but that just my opinion. Unfortunately, we use the Aptamil Comfort formula which thickens as you mix it. The longer it’s left the thicker it gets, so this means the advance mixing doesn’t work for us. But if we were using the regular formula I would pre-mix and store the day time feeds in the fridge.

So there you have it. That’s my two pennyworth on the topic of how to mix up formula.

*this is just my way of doing things, I’m not advising anyone to disobey the formual rules, you do so at your own risk!

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