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Enfamil has endless choices of formulas for all babies. Premature babies (0 to 9 months), infants (0 to 12 months) and Toddlers (1 to 3 years). Each age group has a ton of option within it such as ultra caloric formula for premature babies, organic formula, best formula for fussy / gassy babies, sensitive tummies, and formulas which mimic natural breastmilk. Powder formula has become quite popular but Enfamil ready to drink liquid infant formula is safe, high in nutrients and convenient.
When Oliver, my son, was born 2 months early, the NICU nurses introduced us to Enfamil and their ready-made formula. I was a bit uneasy giving my tiny baby room temperature, shelf stable baby formula but they explained to me that it is 100% safe, sterile and full of vitamins and nutrients that are vital for preemies. Ready to drink formula can actually be MORE beneficial to premature babies, newborns and infants.
Powder Formula versus Ready to Drink Liquid Formula
There are many differences between powder formula and ready to feed liquid formula. Most of the time it is okay to use a combination of the two. But sometimes your pediatrician can recommend which type to use or which brand will work best. Always consult your doctor when in doubt. All formulas produced in the United States are FDA Approved to meet standards for baby growth and nutrition.
Powder formula is the most economical and can be measured out to the desired amount making it less wasteful. Ready to feed formula is the most expensive. If you are on the go and your little one doesn’t finish a bottle the rest will most likely go to waste as it needs to be refrigerated once opened. In my personal experience wasted formula was far and wide in between. My little hungry preemie finished one or two 2 oz bottles of ready to drink formula almost 100% of the time.
Which Formula is Right For Your Baby
Always consult your baby’s pediatrician with any questions or concerns. There are a few rules of thumb regarding which type of formula is best for which baby.
My son, Oliver was born at 30 weeks weighing in at just about 1000 grams. I wasn’t able to produce enough breast milk to keep up with his nutritional needs and his huge appetite. So the NICU doctors required Oliver to supplement my breast milk with high calorie ready to use formula from Enfamil (see below). This formula was specifically designed for premature babies born at low birth weight. It was packed with nutrients and iron and closely resembled breastmilk. Ready to drink formula is safest for high risk, premature babies because it is high in nutrients and it is sterile so there is a low risk of contamination or infection which could be detrimental to premature babies. The cost of these was a lot higher than some other options. Not all ready to feed formula costs the same.
When Oliver was about 2-3 months old, we got the green light from our pediatrician to use powder formula because he was gaining weight and growing! We decided to use primarily powder formula and supplement with breastmilk and use the ready to feed bottles on the go or when we noticed he was extra hungry.
Powdered formula can safely be recommended for full-term, healthy infants over 37 weeks gestation, born weighing over 2500 grams.
Powder formula can be made at home and poured out into bottles but it has to be refrigerated to take on the go. Another option that is a bit more cumbersome is to measure out the powder into bottles and have a thermos of hot water to mix when needed. That way baby gets warm, fresh formula which seems to be slightly better for their tummies. I used to do the second option when I wasn’t using the ready to feed bottles. The trick here is to cool the water just enough so it is not scalding hot when it comes out of the thermos. Scalding hot water can damage the nutrients in powder formula. Optimal water / formula temperature should be close to body temperature (98.6 F or 37 C).
There is virtually no preparation when it comes to the 2 oz ready to feed formula bottles. Just twist off the cap with clean hands and put a new cap with a nipple / teat on it. Just a heads up most of the time the teat is not included and has to be purchased separately. These are some of the ones we used.
This option is really optimal for travel or for leaving baby with caregivers. To avoid any margin of error by inexperienced caregivers in powder formula prep, choose the ready to feed option.
Sterilization of Infant Formula
Powder formula is not sterile. That does not mean it’s not safe. At the factory powder formula undergoes rigorous testing and it is made in a highly secure and monitored environment. Most of the time germs can be introduced to powder formula with incorrect at home preparation methods.
Ready to feed infant formula is heat treated by the manufacturers, making it a sterile product. This makes it very desirable for premature babies. My son Oliver who was 2 months premature was only able to consume ready to feed formulas with a high calorie count along with my breastmilk. No powder formula was allowed because it didn’t have as high calorie count and was not sterile which could pose a danger of an infection.
Once prepared, powder formula can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Ready to drink formula can be stored for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator after opening. Which is a good thing since it’s so much more expensive than powder formula.
Powder formula has a lot less packaging per serving versus ready to feed formula. Most of the packaging can be recycled curbside as well. Repurposing powder formula packaging is also a wonderful idea. The label, a lot of the time, can be peeled off so the container can be relabelled to store other items. Think about storing all those knick-knacks, dry baking or cooking ingredients, arts and crafts and all those tiny Pokemon figurines your little one has collected from their bath bombs or Kinder Surprise Eggs.
Ready to feed formula, you probably guessed it, has a TON of packaging per serving. This is hands down the worst waste creating option. Trust me, every time I threw away all that packaging my heart skipped a beat. SO MUCH WASTE! It was probably my least favorite part of ready to drink formula.
The plastic bottle is just too small to re-use so rinse it out and in most places it can be recycled curbside. Some people choose to sterilize these bottles and reuse them for formula but these are meant to be single use. If you have any ideas on how to re-use the ready to feed bottles, comment below.
The cardboard the bottles come in can be recycled as well, that one is easy.
The teats, if they are made out of natural rubber can be composted by cutting them into smaller pieces and dropping them into your compost or Lomi. Synthetic teats are made out of silicone which closely resembles plastic with petroleum in it and therefore it is difficult to recycle. Each teat comes in a sterile plastic bag with a waxy paper backing which is not recyclable.
In most cases powder formula is the clear option if you can’t breastfeed or produce enough milk. It is amazing by itself or to supplement breastfeeding. It is safe, nutritious and less expensive than ready to drink formula.
But, for premature babies or babies born with health issues, the hospital will require you to use ready to feed formula by itself or to supplement breast milk. Ready to feed formula is more concentrated with nutrients and typically has a high calorie count. Because it requires no mixing with water, each bottle is consistent to help premature babies grow and develop. Ready to feed formula is also sterilized at the time of production so it lowers the risk of contamination and infections from incorrect handling.
Plus, of course, ready to feed formula is perfect for emergency feedings during stroller rides and at doctor’s offices! Because baby gets hungry anytime and anywhere and we all know those tantrums are not fun!