Baby formula comes in three different forms: powder, concentrate, and ready to feed.
While there are pros and cons to each, ready to feed formula is simply not affordable for many caregivers –costing nearly twice as much as name brand powder formula and three times more than generic powder formula!
Additionally, the WIC program – which accounts for more than 50% of baby formula purchases in the United States – has strict limitations on providing ready to feed, and your baby simply “not liking” or “refusing to eat” powder formula will not get you vouchers for ready to feed.
The number one way in which babies grow too fond of ready to feed formula is in the hospital (and after discharge) when eating from those awesomely-convenient nursette bottles.
I discuss in this post why it’s actually a mixture of the ready to feed formula itself, coupled with the structure of the nursette nipple, that makes babies form such a strong preference. For these reasons, it’s important to transition baby off of this formula and these bottles as quickly as possible.
But let’s say that you weren’t able to apply the advice above. Maybe your baby came upon formula feeding at a later age, or maybe you tried to stop the ready to feed at some point, but the hassle grew too great. So here you find yourself.
There are a couple tricks I’ve stumbled upon over the years to make powder formula “mimic” ready to feed.
1. Ready to feed formula is often served at room temperature. Once opened, it’s then refrigerated and from there the feedings that remain are offered cold or minimally heated to room temperature-ish again.
If you’re transitioning to powder formula it will be important maintain this trend by serving it cooler (in some cases the babies prefer chilled from the fridge even). Caregivers have a tendency when making up powder formula to use warm/hot tap water or boiled water that has cooled down but is still very warm. Be mindful of temperature and aim to keep it consistent when going from ready to feed to powder.
2. Powder formula can be made thicker with very little effort. The number one reason babies prefer ready to feed formula is because of its thick, rich consistency. And for a baby with any hint of reflux or other digestive issues, this thickness is super helpful.
You can make powder formula thicker and richer by simply letting it set and chill in a refrigerator for several hours. This means making up an entire day’s worth of formula at once (roughly 20 to 30 ounces depending on baby’s age and weight) and placing it in the fridge.
As it sits, the froth and bubbles from stirring disappear and it will grow thicker and thicker as it cools. When reheating, be mindful to stir, not shake, when blending.
NOTE: Prepared powder formula is good for 24 hours in the fridge, so plan accordingly. Anything left over must be discarded.
3. Enfamil AR (AR = added rice) comes in powder form, and once prepared is thicker than other powder formulas. Known as the formula to “reduce spit-up,” AR simply adds rice cereal at time of manufacturing so that you don’t have to manually do it at home. To me, AR looks a lot like the post-set and chilled formula mentioned in #2, but the consistency is present right away.
You can use AR even if your baby does not have a spit-up issue. It’s a standard formula like any other and is nutritionally complete.
NOTE: Be aware that AR is a dairy-based formula. It’s not partially hydrolyzed and it’s not soy. So, if your baby is using a Gentlease, Soothe, or Soy formula – AR could cause issues due to its milk proteins.
AR is thick right at time of preparation but will grow even thicker if left to sit for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. And it will grow even thicker if prepared, set, and chilled as mentioned in #2.
AR is now available in generic powder too! This is an amazing gain for formula feeding caregivers!
4. Of course, you can always slowly wean from ready to feed formula as well. Feed 5 oz ready to feed to 1 oz prepared powder for a few days. Then 4 oz ready to feed and 2 oz prepared powder for a few days. Then half and half for a few days. And so on.
You might also try taking the strategies from #2 or #3 and using them as you wean off (make your ratios using part chilled and set powder or AR and part ready to feed).
Questions about how your baby can best transition off of ready to feed? Feel your baby REALLY requires ready to feed for reasons other than preference? Combo feeding with ready to feed and needing to transition to powder? Contact us today!