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by Bridget Reed and Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann

Visiting the store for the first time to build your baby registry can be an overwhelming experience. You’re already not sure what to expect in terms of lifestyle changes, and the amount of baby products available can make it seem like your entire home space will include nothing but baby related items for the foreseeable future. Spoiler: it will. 

On behalf of the entire team at Milk Drunk, we encourage you to take a deep breath. There are a lot of baby products available, some that you probably won’t even need. However, there are also a ton of great products that can save you time and patience over the course of your baby’s first few years of life. One of those products is a formula dispenser like the Baby Brezza Advanced Pro.  

We know, it sounds totally new-age. Can’t you just scoop the formula from the tin yourself? What about ready-made formulas? 

Sure, but considering you’ll likely prepare just over 1,000 bottles for your baby during their first year of life, a machine that does the job for you doesn’t sound like a bad idea. 

We talked with Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann (“Doctor Jacq”), board-certified pediatrician and mom with more than two decades of experience helping new parents care for their babies — not to mention serving as Hospital Chief of Staff and Member of the Board of Directors, alongside being selected as a Top Pediatrician by the International Association of Pediatricians. 

She gave us her thoughts about using a formula dispenser, including safety, benefits, and whether or not it’s a good investment. 

What is a Formula Dispenser?

A formula dispenser is a device that helps aid in bottle making. A formula dispenser can be simplistic in design, like a small on-the-go style plastic container that allows for easy bottle making, or a little more high-tech as dispensers that automatically mix formula and water and produce a warm bottle, earning its nickname as a “baby Keurig.”

The Different Types of Formula Dispenser

If you’re shopping for formula dispensers, you’ve got options. There are essentially three different kinds:

  1. Machines. Some formula dispensers like the Baby Brezza are small appliances that mix formula and water together automatically to produce a warm bottle instantly. These work similarly to coffee dispensers. There is a reservoir for water, and a compartment that holds infant formula. When the machine is turned on, the water and formula are mixed to produce a warm bottle. In terms of price, these formula dispensers are most expensive, but they’re also the most advanced. Some are even available with WiFi, so you can click a button on your smartphone to begin making your baby’s bottle from the other room. Every second matters as a new parent! 
  1. Mixing pitchers. These types of formula dispensers are non-electrical mixing containers that can hold an entire day’s worth of formula in one carafe. This is a less expensive option than a formula dispensing appliance, and is ideal for daycare, a day at Grandma’s house, or simply having a larger amount of ready-made formula on hand. 
  1. Travel containers. These small containers hold a preset amount of formula and usually have a pour spout that makes it easy for you to pour the formula from the container into a bottle without making a mess. These are the least expensive, but hold the least amount of formula. These are great options for on-the-go formula. 

Benefits of a Formula Dispenser

If you’re still on the fence about adding a formula dispenser to your registry, or making the investment yourself, consider some of the reasons parents use formula dispensers. 

Dr. Jacq says formula dispensers exist to make a parent’s life easier. 

When used correctly, it can help in a few ways.

Accurate Formula:Water Ratio Every Time

Formula dispensers allow you to standardize your baby’s formula bottle. Using any type of formula dispenser will generally ensure you are always giving your baby the exact same ratio of water to formula. This is especially important when your baby is cared for by several caregivers (i.e., parents, older siblings, grandparents, nannies, and/or babysitters).

Always Perfectly Warm

Using an electronic formula dispenser can keep bottle temperature consistent. Your baby may not prefer cold bottles, and bottles that are too hot can be dangerous. Using an automated formula dispenser can ensure that bottles are the perfect temperature every single time they are made. 

Less Air Bubbles = Less Gas

Dr. Jacq notes that most machines claim to reduce the amount of air bubbles by gentle mixing versus shaking the bottle. Less air bubbles in the bottle means less air taken in while feeding, which equates to less gas and discomfort.

 Ease of Use and Less Mess

Making a single bottle is a multiple step process that includes ensuring you have a clean bottle and clean bottle parts, measuring formula and water to the correct ratio, mixing, and heating, and cleaning up. 

Using a formula dispenser takes the measuring and mixing out of the equation, and even the cleaning if you’re using a machine or a pitcher that won’t be cleaned until the formula is used. For the most part, formula dispensers are easy to use and a one-stop-shop for bottle making.

Do I Really Need a Formula Dispenser?

Is a formula dispenser necessary to keep your baby healthy? No. Neither are disposable diapers, but they sure are convenient. 

The need for a formula dispenser is truly a personal decision. 

If the benefits above are appealing and you can afford the investment, it can be a wonderful tool to help you on your feeding journey.

When asked if she thought a formula dispenser is necessary, Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann said: 

“Most pediatricians would probably say parents don’t need so many extra gadgets for their baby. As a pediatrician and a MOM, I disagree! Anything that can save you time and make life easier, especially during those first few months of your baby’s life, when you and/or your partner are exhausted, sleep-deprived, and at your wit’s end, I say go for it!

“For example, the Baby Brezza Formula Pro Advanced (now with WiFi!) claims to make a bottle in under 30 seconds, and saves up to 30 minutes a day. What new parent couldn’t use an extra half hour a day (think bath, lunch, nap, workout, etc.)?

“The bottom line is, do you NEED one? No. Is it nice to have, especially if gifted at a baby shower? Sure!” 

Best Practices for Making Bottles the Good Old Fashioned Way

If a higher-end formula dispenser is a bit beyond your budgetary reach, or if you’re just not convinced you’ll use it, there’s always the tried and true mix-by-hand method of bottle making. 

Here’s how to bottle prep like a professional, and ensure your baby gets safe, properly measured bottles each and every time they’re made. 

Before you get started, it’s crucial to remember to keep your hands and your bottle mixing workspace clean

Formula:Water Ratio is the Most Important Thing

Dr. Jacq advises that the formula to water ratio is the most important thing in preparing your baby’s bottle. Over concentrated and/or diluted formula can cause major health problems for your baby. 

When mixing your baby’s bottles by hand, make sure to follow the label instructions closely. When using a machine, you MUST follow the set up, settings, and cleaning protocols to ensure proper mixing. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. 

When starting a bottle, always put the water in the bottle first. Formula powder displaces some of the water so you won’t put enough water in the bottle if you add the powder first. 

Water Shouldn’t Be Cold or Hot, But Exact Temperature is Flexible

While you may think your baby will get an upset tummy if you give her a cold bottle, it’s really just a matter of your baby’s preference. Dr. Jacq advises:

“In general, babies do not need formula at a specific temperature, and room temperature is just fine,  but they might have a preference. For example, if a baby is also breastfeeding, he/she might prefer a warmer bottle of formula, since breastmilk will be at body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).”

In addition, consider bringing formula up to room temperature for very young and small babies that might get cold from drinking cold formula, and in cases when you prepare an entire pitcher of formula for the day that will be refrigerated for some time.

 Don’t Be Afraid To Make Nighttime Formula Ahead of Time

The CDC states that prepared formula can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours, so go ahead and make that 3:00 a.m. bottle before you head to bed. 

Dr. Jacq also suggests warming your baby’s bottles to room temperature if they’re being stored in the fridge
If you don’t have a bottle warmer, place the bottle in a container of warm water until it heats to the desired temperature. Never use the microwave to warm a baby bottle, as it can cause hot spots and burn your baby’s mouth.

Final Tips

If you still can’t decide whether or not a formula dispenser is right for you, Dr. Jacq suggests asking yourself a few questions:

  1. How important is time-saving to you? 
  2. Is it worth the expense of a formula dispenser? 
  3. Do you trust that this machine will produce consistent bottles at the right temperature?
  4. Do you have multiple caregivers making bottles throughout the day? 

Purchasing a formula dispenser is truly an investment, and these are some of the questions you might consider before making a purchase. 

In the end, formula dispensers are about convenience and time saving, and for many, that’s a good enough reason to get one. You deserve it! 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/formula-feeding/how-much-how-often.html
https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/formula-feeding/infant-formula-preparation-and-storage.html
https://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/micro/PIF_Bottle_en.pdf
Jacqueline Winkelmann
Author

Jacqueline Winkelmann, M.D. is supporting Bobbie as a medical expert. A board-certified pediatrician, Doctor Jacq has been in practice for 20 years in Southern California, where she has held many leadership positions, most recently as Hospital Chief-of-Staff and Member of the Board of Directors. Highly accomplished, she was selected as a Top Pediatrician by the International Association of Pediatricians: Leading Physicians of the World in 2018. A national and international speaker on Sports Nutrition, pediatric and adolescent health, Doctor Jacq is also a mom of two that supplemented and believes a pediatrician’s role is to support mothers during their most vulnerable time.

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