Sunday, 27 October 2013

Does anyone know how to make a bottle of formula?

I've mix fed both my children (long story, read past posts if interested) and though number two is coming up to a year I still don't really know how to make a bottle of formula.

The instructions on most boxes of formulas in the UK say to boil water in a kettle and then let it cool for half an hour before using it to make up the formula. Clearly the person who came up with this has not held a screaming, hungry baby in the middle of the night, let alone tried to handle boiling water while doing so, and certainly not for half an hour. Do any parents use this method I wonder?

There's a story about Prince Charles, which he denies, about how he likes to have his boiled eggs just so, so his staff cook seven a few minutes apart when he is expected to come for breakfast so there is always one just right for him. Jeremy Paxman wrote about it in On Royalty in 2006 and Clarence House refuted it in 2012 in a Frequently Asked Questions section of their website. That's what the formula advice reminds me of - I feel like I should have several kettles always boiling so one has been cooled for half an hour at exactly the moment I need it.

During the course of feeding two babies, born two years apart, I have tried many methods. I have used cooled boiled water from the fridge, at room temperature, warmed in the microwave and warmed in a bowl of boiling water. I have used tap water and bottled water. I have pre made and rapidly cooled bottles before keeping them in the fridge and I have topped up boiling water with cool water to try to get the right balance. And I have only come to two conclusions - the first is using boiling water to do anything when exhausted and holding a baby is a bad idea, and the second is that no one seems to know how to make a bottle. Even developed countries with clean water supplies seem to disagree with each other - in Spain the advice seems to be not to bother boiling the water. And in America people seem to put their bottles through the dishwasher to sterilise them, something advised against in the UK.

Science journalist and author Linda Geddes wrote a great blog about this subject when my second baby was just weeks old. It reassured me that the advice really is unrealistic and confusing, but didn't actually help me work out how I should make a bottle in the middle of the night. That is probably because my baby was too young for me to make sense of anything at the time it was written - reading it back now I can see exactly what I should have been doing this past year, which will be handy for the next few weeks only as we're coming up to the end of the formula riddle, this time round at least, as we approach the day that cow's milk is officially allowed as our baby's main drink.

Still, just in case we ever have another, and so I can be the irritating one dispensing advice to friends having babies a few years after us, I'd love to know what other people really do at 3am when their baby is crying. Do please tell me in the comments section.

Here's a little plug for my Kickstarter crowdfunding project for a book about elections aimed at toddler. Here's the link - every pound or dollar helps, and I have until Nov 21 to get to the £2000 total. And here's my previous blog post explaining what I'm doing

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