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Does Shaking the Formula in the Bottle Make Air Bubbles?

by Sharon Perkins

Whether you use ready-made formula, powdered formula or liquid concentrate that you mix with water, you'll usually find yourself giving the bottle a few good shakes to make sure it's properly mixed before feeding. But shaking it creates air bubbles that could give your baby gas if he swallows them. Fortunately, you can ensure that the formula is well-mixed without giving your baby a tummy ache, even if you create a few bubbles in the process.

Types of Formula

Ready-made formula in a bottle doesn't need any mixing, but formula manufacturer Similac still recommends giving the bottle a shake before feeding, in case of any separation. Concentrated liquid formulas mix instantly with water, but you might still find yourself shaking the bottle to make sure it's uniformly combined. Powdered formula, the least expensive type, may give you the most difficulty when it comes to mixing; if you don't mix the powder and water well, it may be lumpy. Use a twisting motion to your wrist when shaking. You can stir the formula rather than shaking it, but only if you stir thoroughly enough to mix well.

Avoiding Bubbles

It's difficult to avoid bubbles in the formula altogether when you're making sure it's well mixed. But the key to keeping your baby from swallowing a large amount of air bubbles is to wait a few minutes until the bubbles dissipate before starting the feeding. During the feeding, you'll see small new bubbles forming inside when the baby sucks; this is normal and indicates proper venting.

Proper Feeding

Bubbles in the formula can enter your baby's stomach when he drinks. To decrease this, watch the nipple while you're feeding to make sure it's full of formula, not air. Hold the baby at a 45-degree angle, AskDrSears.com recommends, so that any bubbles he does swallow are easier for him to burp up. All babies swallow some air during feeding, especially if they gulp. Burp your baby every few ounces and before putting him down after his feeding. He might look sleepy and peaceful, but if you don't burp him after he's swallowed air, he could wake up shortly with pain or spit up part of his meal when the air comes up.

Risks of Poor Mixing

When you mix powdered formula, combining it well takes precedence over creating a few bubbles. If you don't mix the powder thoroughly into the liquid, it could form clumps or cling to the side or bottom of the bottle. If this happens, the formula won't contain the correct number of calories, because the powder supplies the nutritional value. Your baby may get fewer calories than he needs to thrive and grow properly. With ready-to-eat and liquid concentrate formula, this isn't as much of a risk.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

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