Google breastfeeding. You’ll find millions of articles (I am not exaggerating) about the benefits of breast milk for babies. Ask any OB or Pediatrician, any representative at the Health Department, and probably most young moms. They each will chant the mantra they’ve been taught: “Breast is best.” I am not rebutting the science behind that. I am, however, calling to attention the fact that what is best for most is rarely best for all, and with twins, formula feeding has been by far the best choice for us. My reasons for choosing to exclusively formula feed after six weeks of exclusively breastfeeding twins is a topic for another post. Since it was difficult for me to find as much help and encouragement for formula feeding, the purpose of this post is to encourage moms and dads who are adopting, expecting, or have multiples, and for those who are open to the idea of formula feeding I want to reveal the tricks that I have found to make the process much easier and more efficient.
Yes. Easier. If you are a soon-to-be or new parent of twins, this will be your new favorite word. Few things are easy, but most can be made easier. This has been one of the funnest parts of twin parenting for me–figuring out a better way each time I do something. I’ve noticed many parents take offense at the word easier because we tend to think easier means taking short cuts on quality with our precious children, but I’m living proof that easier doesn’t mean worse. It means easier, and with multiples, it means sanity.
While you’re Google-ing, search “define:formula,” too. The definition states, “A rule that is unintelligently or slavishly followed.” At first, I gasped at this definition, but now I own it. Good parenting takes constant brain power. With more than one infant in a house, brains can blow fuses and tasks that take less intelligence are soon appreciated. I could also argue that unintelligent activities don’t typically involve counting and measuring as formula does or strategically developing a routine for success such as the following. If you found this post because feeding your babies has been chaotic, I pray this helps to make your home a bit more peaceful.
Formula Feeding Tips for Multiples
Pick your formula. I’ve actually chosen two brands–Gerber Good Start (the 12.7oz cans of powdered formula that WIC provides) and Similac Advance (the kind I buy for the diaper bag). I’ve heard that these are similar formulas, and my boys have switched between them without any issues. I buy Similac Advance On-the-Go Powder Packets, Similac Advance Ready-to-Feed Quart Bottles, and Similac Advance On-the-Go 8-ounce bottles for any away-from-home feedings. I use $5 checks I get from Similac Strong Moms plus use my ExtraCare Bucks at CVS when Similac is on sale. I’ll write a post about travel feeding later.
Pick a bottle. One of my closest friends worked at a daycare that used only Dr. Brown’s Bottles, and she highly recommended them. I just found another great blog called Twin Talk Blog whose readers highly recommended Dr. Brown’s, too. I chose the wide-mouth version because they were said to be easiest to switch to after breastfeeding and because they are easier to clean. Now that I’ve used them, I also think the wide-mouth bottles are probably easier to hold than the regular size. I wound up with too many four-ounce bottles, but now that I have six eight-ounce bottles, I think that is a good number. I keep two in the diaper bag, two in the cabinet as back-up, and two out to use all day every day.
Keep it clean. If you search reviews of Dr. Brown’s bottles, you’ll find that most of the negative comments revolve around how many parts they have. However, each bottle comes with a tiny brush to clean the parts, and they are also dishwasher safe. When we first started bottle-feeding and went through so many newborn bottles, I used my trusty dishwasher and put all the parts in a Munchkin Dishwasher Basket my husband found for 50 cents at the Anderson Jockey Lot. Although I still use it occasionally to sterilize all the bottles at once overnight, I’ve mostly switched to hand-washing.
Bottles get expensive, and we need to buy fewer bottles if we use the same ones over and over. So, I’ve begun hand washing the bottles after each feeding, which takes about two minutes while my dishwasher can take hours. The Munchkin Bottle Brush has made this so much easier. It has a suction cup so that it stays on my sink, and it has a separate brush specifically for cleaning the nipples. I try to avoid products that I can only use with babies, so I just use our dish rack to dry them between feedings. I love my Simple Human Dishrack (and anything else I’ve bought in that brand).
Pre-mix in bulk. Pre-mix. Pre-mix. Pre-mix! This is the best tip I’ve followed, and I don’t know why more moms of singletons don’t do this. Most formula packaging says that mixed formula is good for about 48 hours. In that time, my two three-month-old boys go through about a gallon of formula. It saves so much time and sanity to mix their formula by the gallon. Dr. Brown’s makes a formula mixer, but in my opinion it’s too small for multiples. We’d be mixing our formula two or three times each day, but now I mix it every other day. We received our mixer as a gift. I’m not sure if the giver knew I would use it for formula or if she gave it to me because she is a Pampered Chef Sales Director, but I’m so very thankful for the Pampered Chef Family-Size Quick-Stir Pitcher.
This is how I mix my formula. Most formulas use the ratio of one scoop of powder to two ounces of water. One gallon is four quarts; one quart is 32 ounces, so one gallon is 128 ounces of water, which means that if I fill the pitcher to the 4 quart/1 gallon mark, I need to add 64 scoops of formula. I don’t trust my brain to count that perfectly the first time, so I scoop all 64 of those into a large measuring cup. For my brands of formula, 64 scoops is about four cups. If it looks way off at the end, I know I’ve fallen asleep while scooping or a screaming baby made me lose count. [Later note: Soon after this post, we just started measuring 4 cups of formula for each gallon. Then we realized that the container itself said that it would make 2.8 quarts, so we said 3 quarts was close enough for us. We’d fill the pitcher to the 3qt mark and add the whole 12oz can of Gerber. It became so much easier!–our key word here.]
I filter a gallon tap water with a CamelBak Relay (best pitcher filter I’ve ever had) into my formula mixer. Then I add the approximately four cups of formula. Then I pump the handle on the milk about fifty times. One of the best benefits of pre-mixing is not having to deal with clumps as often. If there are clumps after mixing, they dissolve while the milk sits in the fridge. I always pump the mixer once or twice before I pour the milk. I do this either right after a feeding while the boys are full and content or while they are napping. It’s a relief to have milk ready when two babies are screaming for it instead of rushing to measure and mix in the craziest times.
Live to serve. Some babies can drink cold or room-temperature milk, but I haven’t been able to get my babies to drink anything but warm milk. Maybe it’s because I started with breastfeeding. We began without a bottle warmer and heated the bottles the old-fashioned way in a pot or bowl of hot water. That gets old when you’re making about 20 bottles each day. Our Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer has been fantastic. I’m a light packer, but we take this with us when we travel. I highly recommend a bottle warmer for multiples.Right now, they are eating about 6 ounces each time. Twelve ounces fits in one bottle, so we heat that then split it into two bottles, which saves even more time. [Later update: When the boys got a little older and we felt like they would make a face instead of just cry if the bottle were too hot, we started using the microwave. Google and other venues of advice will tell you not to do this because of hot spots, so please don’t burn your children. We just shook the bottle a bit with a solid lid instead of the Dr. Browns attachments. About a minute seemed to be perfect. We couldn’t get our boys to drink cold milk still until around the year mark.]
I haven’t found any bibs that I like. We had a couple Gerber bibs with a sort of plastic feel to the back, but the boys grew out of them. I use Koala Baby Bibs now and have heard that the Aden & Anais ones are great, but I can’t say that I recommend them any more than wrapping a cloth diaper around their necks. It’s much cheaper that way, too.
When I’m home alone, I place each boy on a Boppy and sit on the floor to feed them. In the picture below, I was in a rush and didn’t have my usual set-up, but I usually do this in the living room so that I have the back support of leaning against the couch. I put my legs straight out over the pillows between the boys.
My husband says he doesn’t have the flexibility to do it my way, so he sometimes feeds them in their Graco Little Loungers (some of the best spent money of this adventure) while he sits in his camping chair.
And that is how I exclusively formula feed (EFF) my twins.
Believe it or not, I left out some details, so comment with any questions.
I hope to post a video of these tips in action soon. [Later update: There’s not time for video-making! Other people have posted on YouTube, though.] What tricks have you figured out? I’m especially curious about the higher-order multiples. Have you figured out how to feed them by yourself? Have any of you used something like this bottle? I look forward to hearing your tips and ideas.
None of these companies paid me to review their products, so you’re getting the raw truth here. If you would like to pay me to review your product (with the raw truth), refer to the “About Me” section for my contact information.