How to buy baby formula

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I'm bottle-feeding my baby. Which formula is best?

It's easy to feel overwhelmed in the formula aisle. Choosing the right nourishment for your baby is a pretty weighty decision, and there are lots of options.

When choosing formula, consider the form it comes in, the type of protein and carbohydrate it provides, and what other ingredients are included. In the end, you'll be able to choose the formula that is best for your baby and your family's lifestyle.

What are the different forms of formula?

Formulas come in three forms: Ready-to-use, liquid concentrate, and powdered.

Ready-to-use formula is undoubtedly the most convenient – no mixing or measuring required, just open and serve. It's the kind of formula that hospitals often give to newborns. It's hygienic and especially helpful when you don't know whether you'll have access to safe water.

The convenience of ready-to-use formula comes at a price – this kind costs about 20 percent more per ounce than powdered formula. The containers also take up more storage space in your cupboard and more space in the landfill (unless you can recycle the containers).

Once opened, ready-to-use formula has a short lifespan – it must be used within 48 hours. Also, because liquid formula is often darker than powdered formula, many moms complain that it's more likely to stain clothes.

Liquid concentrate formula requires mixing equal parts of water and formula. Compared to ready-to-use formula, concentrate is less expensive and takes up less storage space. Compared to powdered formula, it's a little easier to prepare but more expensive.

Powdered formula is the most economical and the most environmentally friendly formula option. It takes up the least amount of space in transport, in your pantry, and in your trash can.

Powdered formula takes more time to prepare than other types of formula, and you must follow the directions exactly, but it has a one-month shelf life after the container has been opened. As with liquid concentrate formula, you can mix up just the right amount – as much or as little as you want – whenever you need it. This is especially helpful if you're a breastfeeding mom who may only need a supplemental bottleoccasionally.


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