Closeup of mother's hands assembling baby bottle.

Choosing and using baby formula

A guide for moms getting started with baby formula

Your baby and your lifestyle will help lead the way to formula feeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for about the first six months of your baby's life; breastfeeding in combination with feeding solid foods through at least month 12; and continued breastfeeding thereafter, for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.

However, at some point during your baby's 1st year, you might decide to begin formula feeding. Making the best baby formula choice can depend on several factors, such as your baby's developmental needs, the presence of allergies, whether your baby has any specific feeding concerns, or whether your baby was born preterm. To choose the best baby formula for your baby, compare baby formula brands and talk with your pediatrician.

Once you have made your selection, you will choose the form that works best for you: powder or ready to feed. And as long as you are feeding your baby the same formula, you can combine formula varieties — powder for everyday use, for example, and ready to feed for convenience when you are traveling with your baby.



Baby formula basics

Baby formula is generally categorized into four types:

  • Milk-based: : This is the most common formula. It has protein and lactose from cow's milk.
  • Hydrolyzed: “Predigested” proteins are easier for your baby to digest.
  • Soy: These formulas are sometimes recommended for babies with sensitive stomachs who are unable to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in milk-based formulas. Soy formulas contain no animal products.
  • Specialized: These formulas are manufactured for infants with specific disorders or diseases, and for babies born preterm.

Similac Advance® now has OptiGRO 
OptiGRO is our exclusive blend of DHA, Lutein and Vitamin E; these important ingredients are found in breast milk.

  • DHA for brain and eye development
  • Lutein to support eye health
  • Vitamin E an important nutrient found in breast milk to support developing cells

Similac offers a range of products – hypoallergenic, soy, organic, and sensitive formulas, and more – to support your baby’s unique needs.

Feeding the right amount of formula

Switching from breastfeeding to formula feeding can be a challenge for some mothers at first, as your baby might refuse the bottle or have milk intolerance. But once your baby begins bottle feeding regularly, it is important to know how much to feed — and when.

The following table provides very general feeding occurrences and amounts based on a baby’s age. Keep in mind that your baby’s feeding schedule will be unique, and will likely differ from this chart at some point. Use your judgment to decide how often and how much your baby should eat. If you are not sure, contact your pediatrician.

Baby Formula-Feeding Guidelines*

 Age Average number of bottle feedings per day Average amount per feeding
Birth–1 week 6–10 2–3 fl oz
1 week–1 month 7–8 2–4 fl oz
1–3 months 5–6 4–5 fl oz
3–6 months 4–5 6–7 fl-oz
6–9 months 3–4 7–8 fl oz
9–12 months 3 7–8 fl oz

* Behrman, RE, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 16th Ed. Philadelphia:WB Saunders Co., 2000; P. 165. 
 Samour PQ and King K. Handbook of Pediatric Nutrition. 3rd Ed. Sudbury, MA:Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2005; P. 90. 
 Fomon SJ. Infant Nutrition. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia:WB Saunders Co., 1974; P. 24.

Follow all formula preparation instructions closely and feed your baby on a consistent schedule. To track how much and how often you feed your baby, and to help monitor your baby’s growth, use our Feeding Tracker (PDF) to record feeding amounts, diaper changes, and more.

Does your baby need a vitamin D supplement?

Vitamin D is a nutrient you need to pay special attention to. All infants, breastfed and/or formula fed, should receive the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended 400 IU/day of vitamin D. In addition, even though standard-term infant formulas have vitamin D, if an infant is not consuming enough formula, it might be necessary to supplement with vitamin D infant drops. Ask your baby's doctor about vitamin D supplementation for your baby.

Have a mobile device?

Download the free Similac® Baby Journal app* to keep track of your baby's feedings, diaper changes, sleep patterns, and more.

Learn more  

*Available for all Apple iOS and Android devices. 
iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

Choosing the right form of Similac for your baby

Similac offers 10 different types of baby formula, and two different formula forms: powder and ready to feed. Please note that not all of these forms are available in every different product type.

Powder formula is the most economical choice and gives you the flexibility to refrigerate a day’s worth of prepared formula for quick access and use — simply measure the right amount and mix with a premeasured amount of water.

Ready-to-feed formula does not require any powder mixing or measuring, and is the most convenient option for when you need to feed your baby while on the go.

For extra help and advice on how to prepare formula, read our guide, How to Make a Bottle.

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