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Whether you are going to feed your baby freshly-prepared milk formula or warmed-up milk formula, the milk must be of the right temperature. For starters, the right temperature is the body’s temperature, which is about 37 degrees Celsius. Same with the temperature of the inside of your wrist or inner elbow.
If you are breastfeeding your little one you have nothing to worry about temperature-wise. The breast milk is delivered to the baby at the perfect temperature. But if you don’t fall into that bracket, you may want to take care to prevent scald injuries to the delicate skin and mucus membranes of the infant.
Not only does the right temperature ensure that the formula milk doesn’t injure the baby but it also makes certain the baby enjoys the feeding experience and does not develop an aversion to feeding.
Hot milk could scald and damage the mucosal lining of the baby’s mouth. It could also destroy the nutritional content of the milk. Very cold milk, on the other hand, can affect the motility of the baby’s gut. As such, you must learn how to prepare or warm up formula milk both hygienically and within the stipulated temperature range.
What Is the Right Temperature for Newborn Formula?
As we said previously, the ideal temperature of the newborn milk is 37 degrees Celsius which is also the average human body temperature. To reach this mark, there are some techniques you can employ.
For freshly prepared milk, you should use warm water of about 40 to 60°Celsius. Though this value varies between manufacturers, sticking to warm water of 40-60° C will ensure that specific important chemical interactions occur in the milk formula without damaging the structure of the milk. Also, it ensures that natural enzymes and other important nutrients stay viable.
That said, some parents may want to feed their already prepared milk formula after warming it up. Just so we are clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding your baby tepid milk formula, so long as it was not made with cold water.
But many new parents tend to warm up the feed before the baby’s feeding session, usually out of fear of the unknown or for convenience. However, this is good and even encouraged. But if you are going to feed your baby a warmed-up feed you must still stick to all safety and hygiene protocols.
How Can I Properly Prepare Formula Milk?
In the paragraphs that follow are tips arranged in a stepwise fashion on how to properly and hygienically prepare your baby’s milk powder. The tips will aid in preparing the feed both in a hygienic manner and at such a temperature that the vital nutrients still retain their properties.
- Step 1: Always check the expiry date of the newborn milk powder. This expiry date tells if the formula is still viable.
- Step 2: Wash your hands properly with soap and running water
- Step 3: Wash and sterilize the bottles, pacifiers, kettles, spoons, and other utensils you might be using. You can do this by boiling the bottles, pacifiers, spoons, and other utensils of interest in water for about 5–10 minutes. You should use bottles that are made of glass or stainless steel. This is due to the ease of disinfecting such materials.
- Step 4: Clean and disinfect any surfaces in your workspace.
- Step 5: Boil about 1 liter of fresh tap water with the kettle for about two to three minutes, but not more than five minutes.
- Step 6: From the kettle fill the feeding bottle with the manufacturer’s recommended amount of water. Double-check the water level to make sure it is accurate.
- Step 7: Using the spoon, add the recommended amount of formula to the pre-measured volume of water.
- Step 8: Fit back the ring, and teat to the bottle. Then cover with the cap
- Step 9: Shake the bottle until the milk powder is visibly dissolved and evenly distributed throughout the milk.
- Step 10: Now, check the temperature of the milk formula to make sure it is thermally okay for your baby. To do this, dab a small amount of the milk on the inside of your wrist or holding the bottle close to your face.
- Step 11: If the milk is too hot, you should cool it. To cool the milk formula, hold the formula under running tepid water till it cools to body temperature.
After this, you are good to go!
What Precautions Should I Take While Preparing Infant Formula?
- Always make sure the formula milk is viable by checking the expiry date.
- Do not boil the water for more than 5 minutes. This is because over-boiling can liberate metallic particles into the water. These metallic ions in turn cause different problems for the baby.
- It is very important that when it comes to the mixing of water and formula milk that everything is done by the book. Which would be the manufacturer’s manual of infant formula milk preparation in this case.
- Do not add too much milk powder. One mistake novice parents make in this regard, is to add more milk to the feed, hoping to make the formula more nutritious. This assumption can be quite harmful to your infant. Feeding a baby an over-concentrated formula can do more harm than good. For one it can cause diarrhea, excess weight gain, and consequently electrolyte imbalances which are not good for the baby.
- Do not add too little milk powder. Another mistake on the opposite end of the spectrum is parents who dilute their baby’s feed. This is equally bad, perhaps worse. Because the diluted milk formula comprises mainly of water which can not adequately cater to the nutritional needs of the infant. Hence, the baby becomes malnourished in the long run.
- Do not add sugar or other complementary food like cereals to the infant formula
- Do not check the temperature of the infant formula by tasting directly from the bottle. This is because in an attempt to taste the infant formula you can directly inoculate oral micro-organisms to the bottle. These microorganisms can overwhelm the baby’s still immature immune system
- To arrive at the correct concentrations, always add the milk to the pre-measured volume of water, not the pre-measured volume of water to the milk
- Do not use water that had been boiled before.
- To ensure the even distribution of heat, always gently swirl the bottle.
- Always test the temperature, regardless of the method of warming you are using. This is done to cancel out the possibilities of hotspots in the milk.
- You should use baby bottles made of glass or a special plastic–BPA. Doing this keeps metallic particles that are liberated from metal bottles at bay.
- Never microwave your baby feed. The heat from microwaves is not usually evenly distributed in the milk. As such, there is always the possibility of different hotspots lurking in the milk formula. Consequently burning the baby’s mouth if given to him or her
- Make sure the water used on the stove is not boiled. At extremely hot temperatures, the proteins in the milk are denatured and other important chemicals may lose their potency.
- If there is any remnant of infant formula from a feeding session, dispose of it promptly and properly.
What Methods Can I Use to Safely Warm Up Baby Formula?
First, make sure you are not warming up a remnant of a previous feeding session. There are three common ways you can warm up your baby’s feed.
Note: The goal is to heat the bottle but only to body temperature.
Using a stove to heat the formula
- Clean and sterilize the pot
- Fill a pot with fresh tap water and warm the water. Do not let the water boil.
- Bring down the pot from the stovetop and put the bottle in the warm water
- Warm the bottle, for about a minute or two, to the body’s temperature.
- Then check the temperature with the inside of your wrist
- Shake gently to ensure the even distribution of heat.
Using warm tap water
You could also warm the infant milk formula by placing it under running warm water. Whenever you feel the infant milk formula is thermally okay for your baby you can now bring it out. Don’t forget to shake the formula gently for about 5 minutes to evenly distribute the heat.
Using a bottle warmer
Bottle warmers are automated devices used to warm the infant milk formula. All you need to do is punch a button and wait. It comes in different brands, shapes, and fits. If you want to minimize stress and eliminate hassles, then a baby bottle warmer might be the best option for you.
The temperature of the milk formula is a very important aspect of a baby’s feeding. The temperature has a big role to play in ensuring that key nutrients are delivered to the baby and in viable forms. That is because the temperature is an important variable that determines which chemical reactions occur in the formula, and which doesn’t. Asides from facilitating or hindering key chemical interactions, formula milk that is too hot can burn a baby’s mouth.
That being said, there is always a need to prepare infant formula not only hygienically but also to a suitable temperature. The same goes for parents who may want to warm up an already prepared or stored infant formula milk. But, if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you have zero worries as regards the temperature of the milk. This is because breast milk is delivered at the optimal temperature for physiological biochemical reactions.