What You Need to Know About Infant Feeding Options

Dec 11, 2019

“The [new baby] is so little. Too little to walk. Too little to talk. Too little to play with toys. Too little to eat pizza or apples or ice cream.”

Thus spake the “I’m a Big Sister” book that Bubby got us. And really, it’s a great book (though why pizza and ice cream need be invoked as “big kid foods” is beyond me. But that’s besides the point.)

The point is: your new baby’s not eating apples or pizza or ice cream. Or rice cereal or oatmeal or jars, for that matter.  

I know you know. And I know you know I know you know.

But, if EBFing isn’t an option, it is important to know what to give your baby -- not just what not to give your baby -- and not just what but how.

So what do you need to know about infant feeding options?


Bottle Feeding in General

Once we leave EBF-land, your baby is, by necessity, drinking out of something else. The most common “something else” is, as I’m sure you know, bottles.

Now, as an aside, I do want you to know that that’s not the only option. It is possible - even for little babies - to drink from a small open faced cup (when paced properly), and in certain circumstances, it may be best for babies to get nutrients via syringe.

But I know that feeding an itty bitty baby from a regular cup is not practical for many mothers, so let’s talk about bottles.

The first thing you need to know about bottle feeding is that, regardless of what’s inside, the best way to bottle feed is by paced feeding. Unlike BFing, bottles offer two options: drink or drown. The milk is coming out of the bottle, like it or not, and it’s got to go somewhere.

To prevent a drink or drown situation, and to enable your baby to cue feed rather than force feed, the best way to feed a baby is with paced feeding. When pace feeding your baby, they’ll be sitting upright, with the bottle pretty much horizontal. 

Place the bottle near the baby’s lips, and allow your baby to take the nipple into her mouth on her own. Watch for cues, and, when baby’s done and pushes the bottle away or turns her head away, respect that cue.

This allows the baby to go at her own pace, and feel her own hunger and fullness cues.


Pumped Milk

The next option, one step down from EBFing, is giving pumped milk (such as if you work outside the home and don’t have your baby with you all day).

The first thing you need to know about pumped milk is its prep: the actual pumping. Your employer should provide a private space for you to be able to pump -- and not a bathroom! 

Remember that the amount of  (bad) bacteria in your milk -- which will affect the length of time it can be stored refrigerated before needing to be used, frozen or tossed -- will be determined by how clean your pumping parts are before you pump.

Unlike formula, which needs to be tossed once baby drinks from the bottle, breast milk has live antibodies that can fight the bacteria that may travel from your baby’s mouth into the bottle. 

While no studies have been done to study the safety of reusing pumped or expressed milk, so long as the pumping equipment was properly cleaned, this is freshly pumped milk, and your baby is not unwell, many mothers have reused milk after 2-48 hours without any problems. (See this article for more info and for direct sources to studies)

Any frozen milk that is defrosted should not be refrozen, and should be used within 24 hours of defrosting.

And of course, as with everything: fresher is better. It’s not always an option to pump and immediately give it to your baby, but the freshest you can give it, the best it is for your baby.


Formula is one of the biggest gifts of the 20th century; it literally enables babies who would have otherwise died to thrive.

There are a few options of formula - cow’s milk-based, goat’s milk-based (as far as I know, none currently are cholov yisroel) and soy-based. 

Each have their drawbacks (soy and cow’s milk have their own problems, but if you’re makpid on cholov yisroel then goat’s milk formula may not yet be an option for you), so you may want to do a little bit of research before deciding what will be the best option for your baby.

There’s also machlokes in the lactation world (yes, we do deal with all types of infant feeding, not just breastfeeding!) regarding hydrolyzed formula -- some say it is easier on sensitive stomachs, some say it may not make a difference.

It is possible for powdered formula to have pathogens present in the powder. When you prepare formula, it should always be with boiling (not just boiled!) water to kill any potential harmful bacteria in the formula. And, of course, handle with clean hands just as you would anything else that’s going into your baby’s mouth.

If your baby is exclusively formula fed, consider adding a quality probiotic to the bottle (once cooled so the boiling water doesn’t kill it!) to help foster proper gut flora growth.


(There are no others)

There are no other infant feeding options, but I’m putting this here anyhow to clarify: there’s a myth out there that straight goat’s milk is a better alternative than formula. (I know I’ve also seen on almond milk bottles “not a replacement for infant formula”, so apparently it’s not just goat milk!)

It’s a myth.

Yes, soy and cow’s milk contain proteins that could trouble your baby’s tummy. No, neither of those are ideal for a variety of reasons (phytoestrogens, CMPA, etc.)

But formula is the second best milk option for your baby - and yes, it is better than straight goat’s milk.

Like I said above, there are goat milk formulas, so perhaps you’d like to explore the option of using one of those if you’d prefer not to go the soy- or cow’s milk formula route, but please please please do not replace breastmilk or formula with goat’s milk.

No pizza for your new little baby. No apples or ice cream. And no other animal milk either. Just mommy milk or formula.


So: didja know all of that? Or have I had the privilege to teach you something today? Let me know what your thoughts were!

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