Within the past two decades, serious emphasis has been placed on the unquantifiable importance of breast milk to a newborn. Mostly re-echoed is the exclusive approach in which the baby is denied any other food than breast milk, not even water is allowed until between the ages of four months and six months.
While many expectant and nursing mothers as well as mother-in-laws are yet to come to terms with this scientific finding, it is no doubt, obvious that the proponents of exclusive breast feeding meant well for our generation as research has shown that “there is no real alternative to the breast-fed baby’s colostrums”.
However, much as the importance of the natural human breast milk can not be over emphasised, we must not also rule out situations or circumstances that could subject a new born to be bottle-fed.
An eventual loss of mother during or after delivery, the inability of the breast milk to be produced at all as well as an eventual incapacitation of the mother after child birth and many more could make bottle-feeding highly imperative. Hence, doing well, that which is worth doing, becomes highly necessary.
All it takes therefore, is to acknowledge the fact that baby formulas are made to meet certain health and growth needs of the baby and having a mind to actualise these needs through the feed.
First and foremost, a cautious and concious adherence to the manufacturers’ instructions on “how-to-use” is a step in the right direction. If you do it in exactly the proportion the manufacturer suggests in the mixing instructions, you will end up with a food that is as close to the composition of the breast milk as it is possible to get with that particular formula. And guess what! the baby gets the right amount of nourishment as well as water in right proportion.
Research workers have discovered a great many bottles are not made up accurately, it is largely this inaccuracy which makes bottle-feeding unsatisfactory to many babies. No bottle-feed is better prepared by putting in just a little extra powder or by adding extra water.
Putting more than the required quantity of powder to a certain water level, will render the milk too strong thereby giving the baby excess protein and fat, as well as too many minerals and not enough water. He or she gets too fat because of the many calories contained in the formular and thirsty because of the much salt in the feed as well.
Worse still, while the baby cries because he is thirsty, the temptation to give him additional bottle becomes irresistible and the result is an outright discomfort on the baby who has known no other way to air his feelings than to cry.
Another point to note is that a new baby, especially one who is not breast fed, has little defences against common germ. His immunity is built over time. In an ordinary clean home, he could cope with the germs that he sucks off his hands or breathes within his environment. But while feeding, the story is different. Milk, especially such around room temperature constitutes an ideal breeding ground for germs.
According to research, Gastroenteritis is still one of the most common reasons for young babies being admitted into hospitals therefore, to keep the babies’ food as free from bacteria as possible, the following pre-cautions must be strictly adhered to.
. Hand washing before handling the milk or its equipments.
.Adoption of a sterile formula as well as keeping the packet or can tightly covered and refrigerated once opened.
.Sterilising every item used in the preparation of the food.
.Cooling the prepared solution, preferably by putting it into refrigerator while it is still hot and keeping it cold until the baby wants it.
.Always throw away remnants and not saving it for next meal.
Bottle feeding, in the absence of breast milk can be a refreshingly soothing experience if they are prepared exactly as the manufacturer recommends. Moreso, as long as the temptation to add an extra spoonful of cereal in the vain hope of a better night is vehemently resisted the resulting milk can best be treated exactly as if it was breast milk. The baby can have as much as he eagerly drinks, as often as he is hungry, and leaves what he does not want.