Whether you plan to exclusively breastfeed or start your baby with formula, you’ll find a plethora of products that are available to you in terms of making your baby’s feeding time easier.
One of the most popular (and least expensive) items available is a formula pitcher.
If you haven’t considered one, why not? Even if you think you’ll breastfeed, there’s always reason to prepare for the unexpected. Having formula and the tools you need to make it on hand in case you are unexpectedly away from your baby, or your feeding goals change can make an emergency situation much less of an emergency.
Milk Drunk consulted with Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann (“Dr. Jacq”), board-certified pediatrician (and mom), to get the scoop on formula pitchers. We asked her what they were, how to safely prepare formula using a pitcher, and whether or not you actually need to have one.
What Exactly is a Formula Pitcher?
A formula pitcher is exactly what it sounds like: a pitcher for formula.
These pitchers, however, have a unique style of mixing “blades” inside of them that are capable of effectively mixing formula without leaving clumps or lumps.
Formula pitchers provide a way for parents and caregivers to prepare an entire day’s worth of formula at once, which eliminates the need to prepare individual bottles. Formula pitchers can save time and ensure your formula is properly mixed, no matter who’s in charge of baby’s feedings.
Benefits of Using a Formula Pitcher
Dr. Jacq says, “A formula pitcher is ideal for mixing larger amounts of formula at one time. They’re especially convenient if your baby is in daycare, or going to grandma’s house for the day. Pitchers are much more portable than the larger formula dispensers.”
Almost sold but need a little more convincing? Here are some of the benefits of using a formula pitcher, instead of mixing formula every time your baby needs a bottle.
It’s a Quick Way To Make a Big Batch, For Nighttime or On the Go
If your baby has already arrived, you know how tiring it is to wake up at 2:00 a.m. and prepare a bottle for your hungry baby.
Using a formula pitcher lets you mix a larger batch of formula, which is great for simply pouring into a bottle in the middle of the night. It saves time, and protects your baby from getting improperly mixed formula by an oh-so-groggy parent.
Using a formula pitcher is also a great way to prep your baby’s formula for the entire day. Instead of repeatedly making trips to the kitchen to measure out formula and water, and prepare bottles, you simply pull the formula pitcher from the fridge and fill a new bottle with perfectly mixed formula.
It Can Reduce Air Bubbles, Which Can Reduce Gassiness
Gassy babies aren’t always happy babies, and as parents you hate seeing your baby struggle with uncomfortable gas bubbles. When you shake your baby’s formula bottle to mix it, it creates air bubbles, which your baby can ingest. These bubbles can cause gas, which can make your baby uncomfortable and fussy.
Using a formula pitcher can help cut down on the amount of air your baby ingests.
Dr. Jacq reminds us, “Because formula pitchers mix water and formula more gently than simply shaking a bottle, it will create less bubbles than hand mixing, and bubbles usually lead to tummy troubles!”
Mixes Formula Without Clumping
Clumps in your baby’s formula usually occur from rushed formula preparation. You’re in such a rush to get a bottle prepared for your hungry baby, you don’t mix the formula and water properly. Halfway through your baby’s feed, the nipple gets clogged with a clump, and you have to interrupt your baby’s feeding time (never a popular decision) to fix it or attach a new nipple.
Using a formula pitcher eliminates the clumps. Formula pitchers usually have a fan like device that twists down into the pitcher and mixes the formula with blades to eliminate clumping. Every bottle you pour is smooth and clump-free.
Do You Really Need a Formula Pitcher?
It’s overwhelming entering a baby store. There are a myriad of products and options for every possible need. How do you determine which items you actually need, and which ones are just going to take up space in your home, rent free?
“As with many other baby gadgets, parents don’t necessarily need a formula pitcher, but they sure help make life easier, and that’s what it’s all about, especially during those first few months of your baby’s life,” says Dr. Jacq. “And for less than 20 dollars, I say if you want one, get one; or even better, register for one and get it as a gift!”
In the end, it’s a matter of preference. If you’re expecting your first child and aren’t sure what you’ll use, ask your parent-friends, caregivers, and other family members. Read reviews online. If it seems like something that may be beneficial, scoop it up and keep the receipt. If you never use it, you can always return it later.
Must-Do’s When Making Formula, Pitcher or Not
Whether or not you’re mixing your formula in a pitcher or bottle by bottle, you should study up on the CDC guidelines for properly mixing and storing your baby’s formula.
When you’re ready to bottle or pitcher prep, wash your hands and make sure your bottles, nipples, and your pitcher if using one, are clean and sterile.
Mixing the Formula
If you’re mixing a pitcher, make sure the ratios of formula and water are accurate for the amount you are making.
If mixing a single bottle, make sure you mix it long enough to avoid clumps.
Once a single bottle has been mixed, it’s a good idea to let it sit for a minute or so to allow the air bubbles to be released.
Be sure to double check the ratios for formula to water. For example with Bobbie infant formula, company reps say it is 23 oz of water to 98 grams of Bobbie formula.
Be Picky in Choosing Your Formula
You’ve got a lot of options for baby formula, and probably a mailbox full of samples if you’re expecting. Determining which formula to use can be a difficult task. How do you decide?
“What’s important to you, as this baby’s parent or caregiver, in a formula?” asks Dr. Jacq.
She offers these items to consider:
- Does my child have a special need? Special needs sometimes require special formulas. If you have a premie, a baby with allergies, or immune deficiencies, a special formula may be required.
- Is the formula easy to find at a local store or online? You need your baby’s formula to be available when you need it. Whether you order it online or in store, is this a formula choice that will be hard to come by? Will shipping the formula be affected by the pandemic?
- Does it meet your need for convenience? Formula is available as powder, ready to feed, and even liquid concentrate.
- Are clean, organic ingredients important to me and my family? If you want an organic formula, are you familiar with the options available? Do you prefer European style formula? (FYI: you can get a great European style formula right here in the U.S.).
- Is the formula regulated and vetted by the U.S. FDA? All formulas sold in the U.S. are regulated by the FDA, but ingredients in those formulas can vary from brand to brand.
Always Pay Attention To the Ratio of Formula To Water
“A correct formula to water ratio is so important,” says Dr. Jaq.
“Over-concentrated and diluted formula can both cause major health problems for your baby.
“When mixing by hand, make sure to follow the label instructions closely, and when using a formula pitcher or dispenser, you must follow the set up, settings, and cleaning protocols to ensure proper mixing. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.”
Always Use Clean, Filtered Drinking Water
If you’re paranoid about using tap water for your baby’s formula, you shouldn’t be, unless you’ve been advised by your local health department that your tap water is not safe for drinking.
If your water is safe but you want to take extra precaution, you can use filtered water or bottled water.
If your home is supplied by well water, you will need to have your water tested to ensure it is safe for infant consumption.
Do Not Microwave Formula
Never, ever microwave your baby’s formula. Microwaving your baby’s formula can cause hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth. To heat your baby’s bottle to room temperature, sit it in a container of hot water for a few minutes, or use a bottle warmer.
“The formula pitcher is most convenient when you want to make a large amount of formula at once,” says Dr. Jacq. “Is this something that you want/need? Does it help you as a parent in any way to make larger volumes at once? If the answer is yes, for the cost, these might be well worth it!”
You don’t need an excuse to equip yourself with items that make your job as a parent or caregiver easier. These products exist for that purpose, and a formula pitcher can help you keep feeding time stress free.