The magic formula: Milky memoirs

As we celebrated Dangermouses first birthday a fortnight ago, it was a double celebration in our house. As you already know, she’s always been one to battle every feed, and we could have probably holidayed to Bali on wasted milk costs.

So, it was with great pleasure that the last box of formula was Rugby Kicked out of the door on bin day with a force Jonny Wilkinson would have been proud of.

To tell you the truth, a few weeks before her birthday, I started reducing the volume of formula and adding a splash of cows milk. I have no idea if this was helpful or not, but I did it with Tigs and hoped it might prevent a shock in a different tasting milk on the day of her first birthday.

Great news is, she’s now happily drinking the cows milk, albeit still from a bottle, twice a day. We have successfully got her to take sips from a cow cup (and shower the floor with a sippy cup). So it’s a great start. I think my cup obsession could be in danger of being reignited?…But for now we’re sticking with the winning Haberman Cow Cup.

So, as we say goodbye to our ritual of counting out those little scoops every evening, FOREVER (I think), I thought we should have a look back at this baby stage for all it’s highs and lows.

I exclusively breast fed both the girls until around the four month mark, when I decided I’d done my time – I never really Loved breast feeding; it was okay, but I found it demanding on me and never intended to go for the long haul. Baby two was definitely easier, but after three close consecutive pregnancies, I felt an overwhelming need to have my body back to myself.

We chose the formula brand Aptamil* with Tigs, for two reasons.

1. I was familiar with it having seen my niece fed with that brand.
2. I liked the box packaging. I know, technical right? That is marketing in action!

Tigs took to formula from the very first bottle, absolutely no problem. She’d probably have drank whatever we gave her to be honest. (We didn’t realise how lucky we were).

Starting formula feeding a few months into being a parent is a strange old thing. It’s a little like starting all over again. Sure, I didn’t feel like ANY kind of breastfeeding expert, but I certainly had my little routine going, and our days had a structure that worked.

So there I was, fumbling over some steriliser instructions, opening packets of pristine bottles, and reading the tiny instructions on the back of the formula box. Stressed? Maybe just slightly…

I think it’s fair to say any type of feeding has its down falls…switching from boob to bottle certainly wasn’t going to be the easy ride I thought it would. But, I had made my decision, so I soldiered on and cracked it in the end.

Now, one of my observations as a new Mummy, was the vast expanse of feeding paraphernalia, and the different ways every Mum (or Dad) seemed to roll with their bottle making.

For example…the packaging clearly stated to make each feed up with boiling water, then cool it down. What? Hold your horses… This isn’t how I imagined making a bottle? I had definitely seen Mummies warming bottles up in jugs of hot water? In microwaves? I was confused to say the least.

And so my survey began…to every parent I knew. “How did you do it?”…No I’m not talking cream eggs, or Karma sutra…make up your babies bottles…

Now, the option which caught my eye as the most viable practical method, was to measure out the scoops of powder in advance in these cutesie little containers. (They were purchased quicker than you can type www.amazon.com.) Then, pour out your boiled water into bottles, let them cool. When feed required, mix instantly, to achieve a perfect room temperature feed (which Tigs was fine with). Voila, simples. I was merrily on my way, winning at this bottle feeding malarkey.

For a few weeks that is. Until a family member who is a midwife, spotted this and mentioned that through some training, they’d been told this was a potentially dangerous method…milk powder is not sterile, so the process of adding boiling water is key in ensuring any harmful bugs are eliminated from the feed.

Cue absolute irrational mental breakdown. I cried for days. I thought I’d poisoned my baby. I asked a health visitor to come out and see me to advise me on what the hell I was doing. I should probably be jailed for being such an irresponsible mother.

Snap back to planet earth.

So, back to the drawing board. Again, wondering how the hell I’m supposed to be cooling down bottles of freshly boiled water whilst I’m on a play date? (Tigs was sleeping through without a night feed). Temporarily, the answer lay in the ready made bottles, sold at a premium, but oh so handy. They kept me sane while I gave it some thought. And then, actually, as feeds reduced, it really didn’t cause that much of a hassle. I took a ready made bottle out if I (rarely) happened to be out at feed-o’clock. Not so bad after all.

Top tip: We kept a jug of ice cold water in the fridge, which cooled bottles down super quick, without water going into the lid, in a (vitally) hands free way.

It’s all quite funny to look back at now, but at the time…another story! I know lots of people do use the method I was using, and I appreciate it’s up to each parent to do what they think is best. I just found my Mum-xiety boiled over at this particular issue.

Dangermouse dropped her feeds a lot slower than Tigs, mainly due to her weeny 2nd percentile size. A different challenge ensued when we weaned her from BF’g. She was still having night breast feeds, and soon started screaming constantly after a night breast feed so we had to drop them altogether. Now, even though we had nailed a system, even I couldn’t fathom boiling kettles at 2 am for a wailing hungry baby, waking up the street let alone her sister. Ready made feeds were an option, but 2 or 3 a day was going to be a bit pricey. Especially as most of the milk ended up down the sink.

Now, here I broke my own rules a bit. As a professional in the healthcare industry, following pack instructions is a must. But, so is using a little scientific initiative…

With Dangermouse, we went old school for her night feeds. Make the bottles at bedtime with boiling water: bugs destroyed, chill immediately, and then refrigerate until needed. Warm. Use.

It was with a heavy heart I took that approach, but it made sense to me, and was the historical advised method for years….I certainly felt more comfortable that way than the powder mix way?

These aren’t the only methods I’ve seen friends use. Variations involving cold water, hot water, microwave heating before or after adding milk powder. I think it’s clearly causing a load of confusion.

More recently, a friend mentioned that the boiled water has to cool in the kettle for up to 30 minutes before use. I defensively gave an argument as to why that was ridiculous, and what kind of instruction was that anyway? But, tail between my legs, I googled it and turns out she was right – boiling water can damage some of the good stuff in the formula, so if you can, you should wait until that (exactly) 1 litre of water is cooled slightly. But not too much.

So, all in all, milky formula, I won’t miss you. I won’t miss paying £10 a box for you and throwing you down the sink. I won’t miss beating myself up with Mum guilt about whether each feed is too hot, too cool, too infested with bacteria, vacant of beneficial enzymes. I won’t miss wondering whether my child has had too much or too little. I won’t miss the toddler ‘helping’ me count out scoops, making me constantly question whether I have added one extra, or missed one out…

It’s been a rollercoaster. But, I’m happily getting off now.

x MMT

*Other brands of formula milk are available. This is not a collaborative post, just an account of my own experience

If in any doubts, always follow the pack instructions for making up a formula feed. This post does not in anyway reccommend any alternative methods and is an account of my own experience only. If unsure, or in a panic like me, seek advice from your health visitor.

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41 thoughts on “The magic formula: Milky memoirs

  1. The Speed Bump Reply

    Love this! And that was definitely one of the best things about SB turning one was saying goodbye to formula and bottles!

    1. MMT Reply

      Cannot wait to get rid of bottles too! Definitely no emotional connection to them with this baby…but need to be sure she’s getting enough milk as she’s still pretty tiny. Hopefully within a month or two we’ll be there (YESSSSS!) 😉 x MMT

  2. Mama Reply

    I havent given my tot formula for months and yet i still panicked a bit when i read the thing about boiling water killing the formula bugs….despite us always adding formula to room temp bottled drinking water (not mineral water) for 6 months and having no problems. There’s no way to win!

    Thanks for linking to #fartglitter x

  3. Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) Reply

    I don’t even have a clue what I did now when I think back. I breast fed for 10 months but we moved to formula for the night feed and maybe mid pm feed but moving to cow’s milk. I think hubby used to par boil the kettle and just give it her. We never did what we should and our daughter was fine. It’s a total minefield. Bet you are so glad to be away from formula!! xx #fartglitter

  4. rhymingwithwine Reply

    Love this post. Our Mstr Tot is just 14 months and I actually did a happy dance when I could make him a drink straight from the carton in the fridge. Just bliss! X #MarvMondays

    1. MMT Reply

      Happy Days! Sometimes I think it would be easier tog et a cow for the garden 😉 x

  5. sisterk1n Reply

    Oh Lord! I do not miss those days. Bottle feeding is a stressful science. #fartglitter

  6. Robyn Reply

    I can definitely relate to this. I still have an unopened can of formula I bought six months ago! I was so overwhelmed with the specific package instructions and the conflicting advice on the internet about how ‘real’ people prepare it that I decided to stick with breast milk!

    1. MMT Reply

      Ha ha, it definitely isn’t ‘the easy option’ – I think every type of feeding comes with its own highs, and of course, Lows! Thanks for reading x

  7. New Mummy Blog Reply

    Ooooh fab post Mrs! You must be so so happy. We’re a couple of weeks away from one, so I’m now wondering about your method of adding a bit of whole milk to her formula feeds… will have a think 🙂
    I think all mummies have this guilt about everything, all advice differs, doesn’t it!
    I mostly breast fed until around 8 months, then decreased and stopped just over 9 months (due to moving it was just so chaotic). We used the Tommee Tippee perfect prep as it made bottles easier and we had to give H formula from very early on as a top up feed (she wasn’t gaining weight (due to tongue tie) and I was feeding for 45 minutes a time, then having half an hour before starting feeding again).
    Thank you so much for linking up to #TheBabyFormula

    1. MMT Reply

      Ah the babycino?! I looked at those – look so cool! Thanks for reading commenting -and sharing ❤️ x

  8. Rachel Reply

    Interesting post. The problem I find with formula feeding is the lack of consistent, up to date information available across the board. This is something I hope can be rectified in the future so no mums who have chosen to formula feed are concerned or worried about how to do it. #bestandworst

  9. helen gandy Reply

    Oh isn’t it just so ridiculous all the rules and guidance surrounding how to make formula up, I have to admit I half fill bottles with boiled water and then top up with boiling when I need to use them! Thanks for linking up to the #bestandworst and see you again!

  10. butterflymum83 Reply

    This post brought back so many memories for me! My son is 2.5 yo so we said a gleeful goodbye to overpriced formula a while ago now and I think I may have forgotten (blocked out) all the heating up drama lol!

    We had a very specific method for night feeds which will prob seem overly complicated for some but it worked for us. I would boil a kettle about 30 mins before we went to bed. Let it cool for a tiny bit (as mentioned above as I had heard the same thing) until optimum temp for sterilising the formula but still retaining the nutritional values. Then we would put it in a large thermos flask to take upstairs. This kept it at the right temp for hours. We’d also bring up a bowl of chilled water. And however many bottles we needed for the night, premeasured in the awesome little tubs you mentioned.

    Then for night feeds we’d mix the formula with the water from the flask and then cool as quickly as possible in the cold water until mouth-scalding was eliminated! Yeah, now I’m reading this back it seems a little nuts! Maybe next time I’ll invest in the Tommee Tippee bottle heater thing lol!

    Thanks for sharing your journey and pleased for you that it’s come to an end 😀

    #bestandworst #coolmumclub

  11. Kyles Reply

    It never ceases to amaze me when I hear someone suggest that using formula is the easy option. I know that a lot of incredible science goes into making it as highly nutritional as possible, but it would be nice if just one of those genius minds focused on making it user friendly too! #coolmumclub

  12. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    You’re not going to believe this but….we actually went back on the formula having been so excited to get our little one on cow’s milk because we just found the cow’s milk just made everything worse every time she had a cold in the winter (constantly!!!). So here I am, with a two and half years old girl, firmly back on the old Aptamil. Who would have thought it? #coolmumclub

  13. Smallstuffandme Reply

    Oh how I rejoiced when I ditched the formula! Small Stuff wouldn’t latch so I expressed for 4 months then switched to formula and finding the correct info on bottle prep and storage was a nightmare!

  14. newmummyblogcom Reply

    Popping back to your fab post from #coolmumclub x

  15. Jordanne Lee Reply

    This is great! I absolutely hated the formula milk, it smelled horrible and his sick on formula was horrible and just no. Hated it! I was so greatful for Leon being able to go on to blue milk! Fantastic post!

    Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

  16. Mrs Lighty Reply

    Oh this is so me!! We’re on the reflux milk which needs to be cooled for 45 mins. We do use the cooled boiled water method but I worry every time o give him the bottles when out. I will be doing a little happy dance once the formula days are gone!! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub 🙂

    1. MMT Reply

      Oh no, that’s even worse! let the countdown commence 🙂 x

  17. rhymingwithwine Reply

    Just another repeat visit (if something is good it’s worth reading twice!) #coolmumclub :0) x

  18. Nearly Yummy Mummy Reply

    Love this – I can’t wait until L is off formula (he has special gross prescribed stuff that smells like feet and sick!) My mum-xiety was so bad I went and purchased the Tommy Tippee perfect prep machine and I have to say it was worth every single overpriced penny! Glad you’re finally able to give the aptamil the heave ho! #coolmumclub xxx

    1. MMT Reply

      If I ever had another baby that’d definitely be on my shopping list! x Thanks for reading

  19. Habiba Reply

    Ah this has bought back memories of my formula-feeding days! What a palava. I’m SO happy we’re onto cows milk now too. Great post! #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      Thanks! So much cheaper too! x

  20. Mum in Brum Reply

    Absolutely loved this post! We are exactly one month away from cow’s milk and I cannot wait! Like you we went through lots of different ‘methods’ but I settled on 80ml of boiling, scoop in my formula and then add 100ml of cold (Taylor’s been drinking 180 for the last 5 months) – I saw a friend use her Perfect Prep machine and decided to mimic it instead of buying one! It was a bit of a faff to start with but I’ve got it to a fine art now. I do not miss those days of running the bottle under the cold water tap whilst baby is screaming at you in the middle of the night. Especially when I used to convince myself it was cold enough and then change my mind just as I got baby settled rooting for the teat – queue horrendous wailing!! Bring on the full fat 🙂 #coolmumclub xx

  21. absolutely prabulous Reply

    Relieved to see the cool in the kettle thing. My feeding days are looooong gone but I did wonder if I was mad as I immediately thought the same thing re the boiling water. What kind of a numpty healthcare advisor or whatever they’re called advises boiling water. Everyone knows it kills vital nutrients! These blooming people and their silly advice. You were fine. Always trust your instincts I say.
    #CoolMumClub

  22. Silly Mummy Reply

    Funnily enough, I had said to my mum that my sister might appreciate one of the prep machines as a gift for when she had baby, as she always planned to formula feed, and I said she would probably be really grateful for it at night rather than having to work out and wait for right temperatures as they say formula should not be pre-made and kept, and my mum was saying that when we were babies they were told to make up all the night feeds and store them. Funny how things change! I think they just go really cautious with the advice on making formula because there could be a risk, I suspect that generally as long as bottles and water clean and sterile it is likely to be okay, but they just don’t like people to risk it. Certainly I have known a lot of people not follow the instructions fully! Still, my mum did get the prep machine & it is apparently working out well. Mine were both breastfed to over a year, but I did always think that, had I needed to switch to formula, I would have used those ready made bottles for when out and about. Extra cost did look worth it to not deal with the hassle of trying to make up formula properly on the go! #coolmumclub

  23. Sarah Reply

    I was so determined that I was going to breastfeed the twins but with the, arriving so so early and spending so long in hospital, this was never going to happen! 10 months in and its the bottle washing and sterilising that gets me!!!!! So I’ll not be sad to see that go! But when all goes smoothly and they are feeding well, I absolutley love feeding them their bottles, it’s my 1:1 bonding time with each of them! #coolmumclub

  24. agentspitback Reply

    Oh my goodness! There shouldn’t be a manual but a whole thesis written on this! I tried the formula feeding and gave up after a couple of tries. Hurrah on the cow’s milk! I was so happy too when my kids took to fresh milk! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  25. This Mum's Life Reply

    Oh yes, this definitely resonated with me! Our story was pretty much the same as yours (except mine were both milk monsters, who usually wanted more than the specified amount at each feed, so sorry you had the added battle of a feed battler…) My milk didn’t come in with number one, so we were thrust into bottle feeding from the start, and it was unexpected. We had all the same worries of boiling water, the hows, wheres, bloody whats???? So also used the extortionate ready made stuff! This came after my husband was downstairs running a bottle under a cold tap for what seemed like hours, to cool it down, while I was upstairs with the hungry baby screaming in my arms! I announced that we couldn’t possibly go on like that!
    I will admit that with number two (he was breastfed for a few months before I switched him,) I just kept a jug of cooled boiled water handy, and added the powder from one of the handy storage thingies…! He was fine!
    Great post!
    #coolmumclub

  26. tammymum Reply

    Ah I can so relate to this post. Had a similar experience with breastfeeding, and then formula feeding. Neither of little ones have been that keen on milk in fact baby2 seems to be intolerant. But when cows milk could be introduced (for baby1 anyway) it was like a gift from God. She loved it!! The whole formula thing was such a stress that I was glad to be rid of, until baby 2 came along anyway x

  27. Emily Reply

    Hi Sarah, I forgot how stressful, annoying and expensive the whole formula feeding thing was! My little lady is two now and was forumla fed the ready made aptamil from around ten months to when she one year old and then we pretty quickly switched her to cows milk. It wasnt long when you look at it like this, but at the time I remember how expensive and fiddly it was. We were lucky as it was relatively straight forward for us compared to your experience, but its funny how quickly you forget once your little ones grow isnt it! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays 🙂 Emily

  28. Becky Pink Reply

    Argh I’d forgotten (blocked out) how stressful it could all be, especially on just a few hours sleep. When someone comes in when you are counting the scoops and talks to you, ugh. I did the cooling the kettle for a while (I did time it but can’t remember how long now) and adding the scoops and shaking and standing in cool water. But we put them in the fridge and reheated when we needed them. Which I hear is not the right thing to do now but we never had any problems. But I too was very pleased to get rid of that last box! xx

  29. Becky Pink Reply

    Forgot this #CoolMumClub x

  30. ethannevelyn.com Reply

    I love how honest you are. Evelyn is going through the same stage at the moment. I’m giving her cow’s milk 20ml a day and double the next… but she is having the runs – so… I’m just like… perhaps it is all too soon… Thank you for sharing. I also used to make the bottle up with boiled water too. You just learn stuffs as you go along really. Don’t beat yourself up – I’m learning too. That’s the best we can do. x

    1. MMT Reply

      That’s kids for you – you think you have a path and they decide otherwise! We just cut bottles – onto cup…theres always the next challenge isn’t there?! Good luck and thanks for reading x

      1. ethannevelyn.com Reply

        Oh… yes… sure is. Thank you, same to you too. xx

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