Though it is commonly agreed upon that breast is always best, there are also many reasons a mother may consider formula feeding at night. But doing so isn’t always easy. In this article, we’ll delve into the basics of bottle feeding at night, as well as the factors you should consider before making the decision to do so.
Can You Breast and Bottle Feed?
When it comes to night time milk for babies, you may find yourself with a lot of questions. We’re sure you’ve heard about all of the healthy and necessary benefits of breast milk, but, for one reason or another, you may be wondering if adding formula to your baby’s routine might make things easier.
To answer the question of “Is it OK to give one bottle of formula at night?” you must first consider what it is you are trying to accomplish.
For instance, are you venturing towards feeding your baby formula at night because you have an underlying health issue?
Are you going back to work and are worried about not being able to produce enough milk?
Is it because you think you and your baby will sleep better at night if you make the switch?
Whatever your reasoning, it is important to know the facts before initiating a switch to your breastfed baby’s routine. Make sure that you do your own research, and talk to your paediatrician before making any hasty decisions. If approved by your doctor and if your baby doesn’t experience complications as a result of the introduction of formula, you can absolutely give your baby formula bottles at night.
So, are you ready to learn all there is to know about night-time baby formula?
Let’s jump in.
How to Prepare Formula Milk in Advance
To start, there are typically two types of formula you can use: ready-to-feed formula and formula that comes as liquid or powdered concentrate.
As you may have guessed, ready-to-feed formulas can be consumed without preparation. Liquid or powdered concentrate formulas, however, have to be diluted according to the directions on the package before use.
To prepare night time milk for babies in advance, you’ll want to consider the type of milk bottles you wish to give to your child, and how that milk is best handled. Does it need to be chilled? Can it sit at room temperature? Can you access your bottles without having to get out of bed?
Once you’ve considered these options, you can begin preparing baby formula or breast milk bottles in advance.
For breast milk, pump the amount of breast milk that your baby typically consumes into how ever many bottles you think your child will consume during the night.
Generally speaking, breast milk can be kept safe at room temperature for up to six hours. If you think your baby will consume all bottles within six hours from the time you go to bed, then you’re golden. Have the bottles nearby for when your little one wakes up.
If you don’t anticipate your baby drinking all of the bottles within six hours, you’ll want to keep a cooler or mini fridge by your bedside for quick retrieval.
For ready-to-feed formula, simply divvy out the amount of milk you think your babe will drink among bottles, and store them in a cooler or mini-fridge. Your normal refrigerator will work here too, of course, if you don’t mind walking to the kitchen multiple times in the middle of the night.
After 24 hours, you will need to discard of any opened ready-to-feed formula.
Liquid or Powder Concentrate Formula
As for liquid or powdered concentrate formulas, be sure to first read the directions on the package before proceeding. Then, make the bottles according to the package directions and place them in that cooler, mini fridge or your normal refrigerator in the kitchen.
Want to make your baby’s bottle fresh without needing a cooling element? Once you have determined the correct measurements according to the formula label, you can place a bottle or two of water near your bedside, along with pre-measured formula concentrate in a Tupperware container or covered bowl.
When the baby wakes, go ahead and mix your already measured powder or liquid formula with the bottled water in your baby’s bottle and have your baby drink up.
How to Store Formula Milk for Night Feeds
As previously mentioned, unless you are planning to be making up your bottles on demand, you will want to store your formula, or even your bottled breast milk, in the fridge once made.
Breast milk can sit at room temperature for 6 hours, but not formula. Once your formula has been made, you’ve got one hour, tops.
So, stick it in the fridge or a cooler next to your bed.
How Do You Keep Baby Milk Warm at Night ?
As for how to keep your baby’s bottle warm at night, you’ll likely want to have a bottle warmer on hand.
To be honest, some babies are just fine drinking formula or breast milk cold… kind of like drinking refreshingly chilled lemonade!
But there are many babies who, especially in the middle of the night, will more readily take a bottle warmed.
If your baby is one who prefers warm milk, go ahead and place a bottle warmer next to your bed. The warming process will usually take 10-15 minutes. Don’t have a bottle warmer? Put your baby’s bottle in a bowl or mug of hot water for the same amount of time.
Whatever you do, NEVER give your baby formula or breast milk that has been warmed in the microwave. Not only does it alter the nutritive content of night time milk for babies, but it can also cause your baby’s milk to become way too hot, or develop pockets of scorching heat.
How Long Can You Keep Formula Once Made Up?
Once you’re done making up formula in advance, toss it once the baby has finished drinking it. If your baby isn’t yet ready to eat, you may keep it in the cooler or fridge, but don’t keep it there longer than 24 hours. Once 24 hours has passed, you’ll need to discard any mixed formula, used or not.
What if you’ve already warmed the bottle and your baby didn’t drink it all? Toss it. It’s better to be safe than sorry! To put it back in the fridge after it has been warmed only encourages bacterial growth and may threaten the health of your little one.
Have more questions? We’ve got answers! Check out our replies to some of the most commonly asked questions in regards to formula feeding at night.
How to Make Formula Milk When Out and About?
One way that you can feed your baby while out of the house is to prepare the formula as normal and refrigerate it until cold, usually about one hour. Then, place those bottles in a diaper bag with an ice pack. Be careful though. Even when using this method, you must discard the remains after four hours.
Another option? Keep a stash of ready-to-feed formula to use only when you leave the house for a quick, no-mess option for feeding your baby.
Does Formula at Night Help Baby Sleep?
It depends on who you ask! Generally speaking, the consensus seems to be no, but there are plenty of mamas who say that night time formula feeding has done wonders for their baby’s sleeping habits.
The truth? A lot of babies experience digestive issues because of their inability to digest a protein called casein in cow’s milk. Our recommendation is to steer clear of formula if the promise of “better sleep” is the only reason you’re considering it.
How Can I Get My Formula Fed Baby to Sleep Through the Night?
Not every baby is ready to sleep through the night, and sometimes, developmentally, it isn’t appropriate. This is especially true of babies that are six weeks or younger.
Our advice? Try natural methods like placing your baby farther away from you at night, establishing a consistent and predictable bed time routine and making sure that your baby is getting enough calories from breastfeeding throughout the day. Want to make your bedtime routine even easier? It can help when everything is in one spot. Check out the Yellodoor grooming kit to help get your little one off to sleep, clean, clipped and ready!
Formula Feeding at Night: A Summary
When it comes to the question of whether or not you can bottle feed formula at night, the answer is yes. But be sure you examine your reasoning for doing so.
Not sure about what formula is best for your baby? Check out this article for finding the right formula or this extensive breakdown on the types of formula available to find out which is the best option for you.
In closing, it is important that you do what is best for you, your baby and your lifestyle. And as always, consult a paediatrician before making any drastic changes to ensure the health and safety of your little one, at all times.