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If you are a new parent with a hectic schedule, need to make a little extra time in your routine, or simply enjoy finding convenient ways to care for your little one, then ready-to-feed formula might be for you. This type of formula has many of the same qualities as powdered formula and standard liquid concentrates with the added benefit of reduced prep time and is suitable for travel as it does not require much mixing or added water.
To find out if ready to feed formula is right for you, let's take a look at the preparation and storage of ready-to-feed formula, the pros and cons, and some of our favourite products.
Ready to feed formula products are a hot commodity right now, with the demand surpassing the supply on the market. So if you are interested it is best to order in advance, but we will cover more on that below!
Liquid VS Powder Formula
For those of you new to the baby formula world, there are three main types to choose from. These types are powder formula, concentrated liquid formula, and ready-to-feed formula.
All of these have their benefits and disadvantages. Factors that may influence your decision to go with one baby formula type over another could be your lifestyle, the price tag of the product and your baby's specific nutritional needs. Let's break down each type of formula!
Powder infant formula usually comes in a canister. To prepare this formula, the appropriate portion for your little one must be scooped out and mixed with water. Powder formulas are generally the most cost-effective formula on the market, which makes them a go-to product for many parents!
This type of formula is also available for babies with dietary restrictions, with products such as hypoallergenic formula and anti-reflux formula. If you are looking for an environmentally friendly option, powder formulas tend to be the best choice, due to minimal packaging.
Concentrated Liquid Formula
This type of baby formula also needs to be mixed with water, but the preparation tends to be less messy than powder formula. It is recommended that you use boiled water cooled to room temperature when preparing this formula.
Ready to feed formula is arguably the most convenient formula on the market, which is causing it to increase in popularity. This formula does not require you to add water before feeding, and typically comes in single-use bottles.
Although ready to feed formula is sterile and safe to consume cold, most babies prefer this product warmed up. Out of the three types of formula, this one tends to run a higher price tag but is far easier to prepare and travel with.
Organic Ready To Feed Formula
Even though using a ready to feed formula cuts down on time and preparation, they do not lack any of the vital nutrients that are present in powder formula or liquid concentrate.
In fact, organic ready to feed formulas come packed full of all of the yummy vitamins and minerals that your baby needs as their body grows and develops. These bottles are a great choice when traveling, attending hospital visits, daycare, and general life on the go.
HiPP makes two types of ready to feed formulas that are made from organic ingredients and are suitable from birth. Read more about these formulas below.
HiPP Stage PRE Premixed Formula
HiPP Stage PRE formula is suitable from birth to 6 months of age. It is made with probiotic lactic acid cultures cultivated from real breast milk and comes in bottles that are BPA-free. It is formulated to be gentle on a baby's tummy, with a lower lactose content and no starch or maltodextrin. This formula is free from artificial sweeteners, GMOs and is made using the highest-quality clean EU organic ingredients.
HiPP Stage PRE HA formula is made to meet the nutritional needs of babies with milk protein allergies. This formula is suitable from birth to 6 months of age. It contains organic skim milk and is enriched with prebiotics & probiotics and contains ARA (Omega-6) & DHA (Omega-3). This formula comes in a BPA-free bottle and contains no artificial sweeteners or GMOs.
We've already covered some of the basics, but there are a few more points to consider when deciding if ready to feed formula is right for your baby. Let's start by asking yourself the following questions:
Does My Baby Have Any Dietary Restrictions?
Once you have a clear understanding of your baby's dietary needs, you can look into the ready to feed formula options that are available that accommodate these needs. Most babies do well with cow's or goat's milk formulas, but some babies may need hypoallergenic or anti-reflux formula just to name a few.
Remember, it may take some trial and error to figure out which formula works best for your baby. If the first formula doesn't work out, take a deep breath and try again!
What Is My Budget?
Deciding out how much money you are willing to spend on formula can help you choose which kind is right for you. In general, powder formula can save you some money, but will cost you more time.
Concentrated Liquid Formula tends to be slightly more expensive than powder formula, but is still an affordable option for many. Ready to feed formula typically has a higher price point but can help you save time and make feedings more convenient and accessible.
What Kind of Formula Will Accommodate Our family's Lifestyle?
Ready to feed formula is a great option for families who are out of the house or travel more frequently. Less preparation means less to remember while packing for a trip or quickly heading to appointments or gatherings. The single use bottles also mean less cleaning!
If you are more of a homebody and enjoy spending time nesting with your little one, especially during that first year of life, then maybe another formula options works better for your family.
Here is an overview of the pros and cons of ready to feed formulas.
Less preparation required
Great for traveling
Easy to use for other caregivers (Less room for error)
Comes already sterile (Good for babies who are at risk for infection)
Higher price point
More packaging (Not as environmentally friendly)
Can I Switch From My Usual Powdered Formula To A Different Brand Of Ready To Feed Formula?
Not every brand offers ready to feed infant formulas, and if you want to make the switch, you may be wondering what to do to ensure that your baby is safe and healthy during the process.
Generally, switching to a new brand of a similar type of infant formula is fine (For example switching from a powdered goat's milk formula to a ready to feed goat's milk formula). In this case, the ingredients should be similar, but your baby should still be monitored closely during this time to ensure that their body is agreeing with the switch.
If you are making a switch that involves a different kind of formula, for example from a goat's milk formula to a lactose-free formula this should be done slowly and carefully. Always consult your pediatrician prior to making any changes to your baby's diet.
How To Prepare a Premade Formula For Your Baby?
Ready to feed formulas are made for your convenience, so the number of steps you have to take while preparing a bottle for you baby are going to be less than with powder formula or liquid concentrates.
If you are using a single use formula bottle, your baby can drink straight from that bottle. Just grab a clean nipple and you are good to go. If you don't think your baby will finish the whole bottle right away, it is best to divide it into servings and using another bottle (Any unused formula must be stored properly and used within 48 hours).
Step #2: Check Best Before Date and Read Instructions
The first step is going to be checking the best before date, and if this is your first time using a new brand or type of baby formula, it is best to read over the directions on the bottle/canister. Many formulas look similar, so double check that you are using a ready to feed formula that instructs you to not add water.
Step #3: Shake and Warm
For the final step, just shake the bottle and warm it up. Warming the bottle is not necessary, but most babies prefer a warmed bottle, especially if the formula is coming out of the refrigerator. You should never put a bottle in the microwave to warm, as it may heat up unevenly, and create hot spots (source).
A safe way to heat up the bottle is with a bottle warmer, under the faucet or in a pot of water on the stove. Remember to always test the temperature of the milk before feeding your little one.
Opened formula must be stored properly to ensure that your baby is not exposed to anything that could potentially harm them or upset their yummy. Here are some guidelines to follow:
If the baby formula is left out of the fridge, it must be consumed within 2 hours because room temperature is the perfect climate for bacteria to grow.
Baby formula that has been heated can not be put in the refrigerator and must be discarded
If your baby has started drinking their bottle and not finished it within an hour, any leftover formula should be thrown away. This is because of the bacteria transfer from your baby's mouth to the bottle, which can contaminate the formula.
Unused opened formula that has been stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 48 hours
If you are using a single use formula bottle, you may be wondering which nipples can be paired with it.
Most ready-to-feed single use products can be used with classic bottle-feeding nipples. Some parents choose to use disposable nipples, especially while travelling and on-the-go for easier clean up and convenience, but this is not necessary, as classic nipples can be washed and reused.
Your lifestyle, budget and your baby's nutritional needs are going to impact which formula you choose. Choosing a ready to feed formula product can save you time, and make feeding your baby easier while you juggle all the your new parental responsibilities.
No matter how you choose to feed your baby, what matters most is that they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that their growing body needs, and ready to go formula might be able to help with that!
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.
Dr. Agustina Fernandez earned her medical degree from the prestigious Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. With a deep-rooted passion for pediatrics, Dr. Fernandez is currently on the path to specializing in children's healthcare. Recently, she has delved into the vital field of infant nutrition. Her research interests include breastfeeding, infant formula, and baby food in little ones’ formative years. Dr. Fernandez's commitment to this area of study underscores her dedication to ensuring the health and well-being of children from their earliest days.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University.
Dr. Hsu did research in MRI neuroimaging research of fetal brains at Boston Children’s Hospital, an affiliated hospital of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hsu is currently a full-time medical writer and consultant.
Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel