Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Formula = Not Unicorn Tears

Brace yourselves.  Or as Samuel L. Jackson would say,

"Hold on to your butts."

(Sorry, am I the only one who quotes Jurassic Park!?)

I have a fan.

Now wipe that shocked look off your face and let's all give a round of applause to my one fan, "J."

She is a new mom, living in Florida.  And she looks like a freaking super model or really, really classy porn star. (By the way you should take that as a compliment.  Because that is totally how I meant it.)

Super, super beautiful. 

Her long blond locks are always styled to perfection and she has a gorg baby boy. 

Sounds like Ms. "J" has been having a rough time lately.

Because being a new mom can be hard on a gal.  And that's just the truth. 

This shit ain't for the weak.  (I apologize, I'm kind of stuck in Samuel L. Jackson mode now.  I'm trying to turn it off.)

SO, I have had a request to write a little something about formula. 

And, if there's anything I can do to help out a fellow mom in need, well I'm damn well gonna do it.

So if you don't give a toot about hearing about formula, then go on your merry way and we'll see ya when we see ya. 

I am going to preface this whole discussion with this:

If you find yourself looking for formula because you tried breastfeeding and it didn't work out, or you breastfed as long as you could and now you are weaning baby, or you breastfed and now baby is weaning him or herself, or you're going back to work, or you just don't want to breastfeed, etc;

First of all, STOP CRYING.

That is step one.

(Cause, Lawwd knows, it can be hard.)

Put the baby down.  Wipe your tears and have a cocktail, girl.

We are celebrating.  No matter what you did, you tried.  And now you're moving onwards and upwards and your baby is going to be fine.

Better than fine, in fact.

Your baby will be fat and happy and smart and healthy. 

So, relax. 

Now, I'll tell you what I know (which might not really be more than the average Joe, but I will open up the floor to comments at the end; so hopefully if we pool our brains (?) we can all get something out of this!)

There are many, many brands of formula.  This can be extremely overwhelming for the formula newbie.  Because as a new mom, you want to make sure you are buying "the best."  And you will find that no one is going to be able to tell you what is "the best."  Because they are all good, and they will all nourish your baby.  The government has regulated baby formula, so each kind has to meet specific standards.  We began using Enfamil with my son, solely because those were the samples they sent us home with from the hospital. 

It could have just as easily been Similac. 

People have asked me in the past what kind of formula we use in the intensive care nursery, so for what it's worth, we mostly use Enfamil products in my nursery.  But we do stock Similac.  So don't take that as one being better than the other.  We are also sending many babies home now on the Gerber Good Start formula.  This is the formula that WICC is now using, so that's one I'm seeing more and more of.  There are also specialized (read, very expensive) formulas out there for infants with milk allergies, etc.

Now that you've chosen which brand you prefer, there are ten different options within that brand... 


As always, first consult with your pediatrician and see if he or she has any specific recommendations that would be particularly good for your baby. 

(And if you have a premature infant, or received special dietary instructions for your infant when it was discharged from the hospital, ALWAYS follow those directions.)

Adeline uses the Target brand Gentlease.

She was a farty little thing in the beginning, so we opted to try out the Gentlease formula which claims to help with gas and be easier to digest.  Just like "Gripe water" or Mylicon drops whether it actually makes that much of a difference is debatable. 

But, you will find, as a new parent you will cling to any shred of hope.  And then you will convince yourself that it is getting better. 

It's a survival technique.

And no, you did not read that wrong.  I did say we used the Target brand. 

Many new parents find it economically easier to buy generic formula.  I know people that have used Costco's generic formula as well.


(Geez, I feel like I'm yelling at you guys a lot in this post.  Sorry, I guess I'm just super impassioned by this discussion.)

You may find that you are not in charge of what your little Duke or Duchess drinks, anyhow.  The little tots can be picky!  You may be forced to give them whatever they will deign to drink.  For this reason I do not recommend buying a specific kind in bulk until you are sure that your baby will drink it.

(Same goes for baby bottles and pacifiers.  But that's a whole different post.)

If you are really struggling to find a formula that your baby finds agreeable, because baby is used to your breastmilk, you may try mixing them together to ease them into the new menu.

Ex.  If you're making a four ounce bottle, mix three ounces breastmilk and one ounce formula.  Keep decreasing the amount of breastmilk and increasing the ratio of formula.  They just may need a little time to adjust.

(We had to do the same thing with Henry when it was time to switch from formula to whole milk.  And it did work.)

I would not use this mixing strategy if, by doctor's orders, you need to have your baby on higher calorie formula.  Breastmilk and standard formula are both 20 calories/ounce, so mixing them will not change the net caloric intake.  If you are mixing plain breastmilk with a higher calorie formula it will dilute the caloric value.  And for little teeny-weenies that is not what we want.

We want fat babies!

Many new parents also find that their baby's poop-a-dupe changes drastically with the switch to or addition of formula.

And this is not uncommon.

Addie's poops turned army green.  A little off-putting, but completely normal. 

You will find there is a vast, vast range of what is considered normal in baby poop.  The color or consistency may change, and the frequency may definitely change. 

As always, if you have any concern, call your pediatrician. 

Lord knows.  I make our pediatrician work.

(Bloody stools, or stool that looks like coffee grounds = never normal.  Get your ass to el doctor.)

Since babies don't just chew on the powder, we have to mix it with water.

(God, babies.  So high maintenance.)

We use the jugs of baby water from the store. 

Much of this depends on the water in your area and the age of your home.  There can be varying levels of different elements in tap water that you may not want your baby to have.

We used tap water with Henry. 

We use bottled water for the princess.

Both children are perfect.  (In my ever-so-humble opinion.)

If you do decide to use tap water, let the faucet run a bit before you fill up your bottle, just to flush out the water that was sitting in your pipes. 

(Be a good person and save it to water your plants or something.)

It is not advised to use warm tap water for bottle mixing.  Use cold water and then a bottle warmer if you must.

Sorry this is getting long and boring.  But you have a baby now.  So, I'm guessing your days of fast-living are over, anyhow. 

So I'll just go on.

Breastmilk, like unicorn tears, has special properties. 

Freshly pumped breastmilk can sit out unrefrigerated for a period of time.

Mixed formula can not.

The directions say to mix what is needed for the feeding and discard unused after feeding or within one hour.

You guys be good and read the directions. 

Sometimes.  When God has his back turned because he's busy dealing with Lindsey Lohan or comforting a brokenhearted Taylor Swift; I will put a full fresh four ounce bottle back in the refrigerator after Addie takes two pulls off it and then decides she's not interested. 

This is against the rules.  I'm probably going to Hell.  But I do not let it sit out and I do not keep it in the refrigerator for more than three hours.  I will rewarm it for her next feed.  (I would not do this for a premature infant, newborn or other baby that may be more sensitive.)

Addie's a hoss.

Someone can write me a comment telling me about how I'm going to give her dysentery or make her explode or something and I promise I'll stop.

I just die a little inside when I have to poor that much formula down the sink.  I just see the money slidin' down the drain.

[Goodbye nice things See ya never.]

So I've written you a book.  About formula.

And still not addressed many things. 

But that's life.

Please feel free to leave additional questions, or PLEASE leave comments if you feel you have further wisdom to share.  Or tell me that I'm a fucking wing-nut and I'm completely wrong.  I adore those comments. 

Thanks "J" for reading and making me feel like a celebrity.

Just keep on keepin' on.  You got this, girl.


  1. I love this post. More than life itself. We used whatever brand the free samples were that our doctor gave us. Because were cheap like that and I have broken boobs.

    Our doctor also told us that the costco brand and enfamil is the exact same, look it up. I can't remember which it is but one of them has more water than the other.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading, my broken-boobed sister. You could mortgage your house paying for formula, new parents need to know their options :)

  2. We use the Costco brand and it is way more economical but again some babies will just not have it! Like Angelina said if you read about it they have all the same ingredients mostly in the same quanities. I also mix bottles and feed him from the same one for hours, however he is 6 months old and is perfect, in my opinion. Oh baby shit is so confusing and so many options.

    1. Thanks for visiting Sylvia! I totally agree baby shit is very confusing.

  3. Of course I'll keep reading this blog should be made into a book and given to every single pregnant woman, as a mommyhood bible. You are very sweet btw. Classy porn star? I'll take it. Well, looks like this life of mine got a lot more complicated than formula. I found out yesterday I have baby #2 on the way.

  4. Holy Crap J! Congratulations!! What a blessing, God must know that you are a strong, brave soul. You must be feeling pretty nervous now, but I can tell you have a heart of gold and lots of love to give. Just the recipe for a good mommy :) I will give you one warning...if you keep dolling yourself up like you do everyday you're going to have 4 kids in no time flat. I find sweatpants and greasy hair to be great birth control. Once again, congrats!!

  5. I freaking love you , I stumbled across your undie sundae post on pinterest and after reading it just had to come read your other posts !! I can tell you I will definatley be checking out your posts all the time so keep them coming !! I became a new mom February 5th and oh how my life has changed ( for the better of course ) but I so wish I would have stumbled upon your blog before labor !!!! Just for shits and giggles what's your take if any on the baby blues because people definatley don't warn you that your body will be taken over by tears for an undetermined amount of time lol !! Thank heavens mine only lasted about two weeks !! Anyways i'll quit rambling and say once more thanks again for your wisdom and keep it coming , oh and I think your hilarious too !!!

    1. Well, I certainly am glad that you enjoy this crazy little blog. I really enjoy writing here when I get a minute! I can see what I can come with as far as "baby blues". But I think I might scare y'all with my brand of crazy!

    2. I hear ya , there's some things I find that I have to keep to myself in fear that someone may lock me up !!!

  6. Oh Lou!! You are amazing!!

  7. Another tip from a not so new mom - we used to mix up a large batch of formula and make several bottles at once. Usually just 32 oz. cuz that's how big our measuring cup was. I stored the sealed bottles in the fridge and they were all drunk within the day. I believe that the problem with storing half drunk bottles (and leaving them out and letting baby nibble later) is more with the bacteria that have been introduced from baby's mouth that will grow if left untended. So - having several bottles prepared in clean bottles in the fridge just might help save a new mama's sanity!

    p.s. Shared your Undie Sundae post with a soon to be mama friend. I was trying to figure out how to delicately broach the healing process with her (b/c no one shared with me!) and was happy to stumble across your blog. Thanks for helping me out!

  8. I found your blog from the Undie Sundae post! And, OMG, what a REFRESHING take on motherhood!!!

    Something much closer to my crass, loud mouthed, rough-around-the edges law enforcement life that I worry will impact my ability to be a good mom one day. So THANK YOU. Thanks for making me realize I can still be ME but also be a great mom as well!!!

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  11. I accidently deleted a reader's comment regarding the amount of calories in breastmilk, and how she thought what I said was misleading as breastmilk can contain more than 20 calories/oz. I wrote a response to that comment and then deleted it because there was a grammatical error (and I couldn't live with it, as crazy as I am). I managed to accidently delete her comment as well.

    I am very sorry and I hope if she comes back she will write again. I welcome people to correct me if they think I am in the wrong. I don't want people to just comment if they think I am awesome (which is also awesome, so please keep doing that.)

    So I'm sorry "S" I did not purposely delete your comment, please come again. And here is the response that I wrote to your comment (minus the damn grammatical error!.):

    (And as you can see above I had to do this twice because the first time I forgot to fix my grammer before submitting it. It is amazing I manage to get through the day.)

    (OMG 3 times! There is something wrong with me.)

    I apologize for the "misleading snippet." I realize that breastmilk can have differing caloric values. 20 calories/oz is simply an estimate, and I believe it would be better to estimate your breastmilk's calories on the low side rather than the high side; by doing this you would ensure that your premature infant was always getting at least the recommended amount of calories for optimal weight gain (based on doctor's recommendations). Any calories that your breastmilk would contain over that number would then simply be bonus for your baby, and would not dilute 22 calorie formula. One of the things we make our mother's aware of upon discharge is that their pumped breastmilk can sometimes lack more of the fatty hindmilk that baby would get nursing (just depending on pumping habits). For this reason I, personally, wouldn't count on pumped breastmilk having at least 22 calories.

    In no way did I mean to diminish how beneficial breastfeeding is; we can all agree that it is wonderful. However, I don't think that formula was designed for the "worst case scenario." I think formula was designed for loving, caring parents that, for one reason or another, could not or chose not to breastfeed and wanted to nourish their infant as healthfully as possible in the absence of breastmilk.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I, like many others, found your blog through the undie sunday. I had my first this past February the 13th and unfortunately ended up needing a c-section, but was interested in the post anyways.. :P I was led to this page and even though I breastfeed, I wanted to read about this in case she weans earlier than I expect and we need to give her formula. Lots of good information and I'm sure you have many more but that would take a whoooooole lot more paragraphs (not that it's a bad thing) because you're like me and go on and on about this and that. Well back to what I was gonna say, I want to follow your blog and look forward to having more laughs with your posts. Have a wonderful day/night/whatever-it-is-when-you-read-this! :D

    1. Congrats on your 3 month old! I know you are in the thick of it now, I wish you the best. Although this period does start to get better when they 'hopefully' start sleeping more! Congratulations on being a successful breast feeder! That is a wonderful accomplishment and you should give yourself a pat in the back for it, or a bottle of wine :) Ha, just remember to pump and dump :). Thanks for stopping by, I hope you keep coming back, although I fear m posts are becoming far and few between due to my own children :)

  13. unicorn tears. Love it! Love your blog as well!

  14. This was amazing! Thanks for posting this! With my first I pumped for two months and then went back to work and said "I'm done".She had no problems with the first formula I gave her. And with my second, she didn't latch either and so she got formula from day 1 basically. However, we went through at least 4 different types of formula before we discovered the stuff that worked best for her! Talk about money down the drain and not having nice things EVER! She of course decided that she could ONLY have (what seems like) the most expensive! Enfamil Gentlese but the liquid only! No powder in this house! UGH! Good luck to all the new moms out there! You are doing what is best for you and your child!