Feeding: You have two choices for feeding your baby, breast milk or formula. Do not give your baby anything else to eat (including juice, water, or regular milk) until your pediatrician recommends it.

Interested in Breastfeeding?
There have been cases of women successfully breast-feeding adopted babies. The amount of milk produced varies depending on the situation, and can be anywhere from a minimal amount to fully meeting a baby’s nutritional needs. However, many women enjoy the other benefits of breastfeeding, such as the emotional bonding, that arise from breast-feeding an adopted baby. 

If you choose to breastfeed your adopted baby:

  • Talk to your doctor before beginning a protocol, and stay in contact with him or her while taking any medications or supplements
  • Visit with a lactation consultant prior to the baby’s birth if possible
  • Make sure your baby is getting enough to eat and gaining weight in the early days (i.e. before you return home). You will likely need to return to the hospital or find a doctor’s office or lactation consultant’s office with a reliable infant scale.
  • Get the support you need from physicians, lactation consultants, and your personal support group. It is crucial to any breast-feeding mother, but especially in one who is attempting to induce lactation for an adopted baby.

Planning to give your baby formula?
Most adoptive parents choose to formula-feed their babies. There are many different choices available today. Most hospitals will have a default formula such as Enfamil, Lipil or Similac Advance that your baby will be started on initially. Usually you are sent home with some samples to get you started. These samples are usually the pre-mixed ready-to-feed variety, which are by far the easiest – and most expensive – option. When you have to purchase formula, it comes in several preparations:

Premixed No need to add water or anything, ready to feed
Powdered Add water and shake
Concentrated Add water and shake

The most important thing to know about formula is that you need to precisely follow the directions on the can regarding the preparation, particularly how much water to use.
Babies have become very sick and even died from being fed formula that was not prepared properly. Be sure to read and follow directions about how to store a bottle once it is mixed or started.

Which formula should I use?
As far as brands go, there is no clear superior choice. There are many generic store brands available whose nutritional content is essentially identical to the leading name brands. They are perfectly good and reasonable choices at a much lower price. Some parents report that their babies seem to do better on one brand than another, so talk to your primary care physician before switching brands if you feel that is an issue for your baby.

I generally recommend starting with one of the typical cow-milk based formulas. If you find your baby isn’t tolerating it, you may wish to try another variety, such as a soy-based formula. Talk to your pediatrician before making these changes.

Want to know the difference between formulas? Click here!

My baby is spitting up.
A common myth about babies is that reflux (or “spit-up”) is a sign of a problem. In fact, reflux is normal in babies, though the amount and frequency varies quite a bit from baby to baby, and even within the same baby sometimes from feeding to feeding. In and of itself, reflux generally does NOT require switching to a new formula. 

My baby grunts and turns red when passing stool.
Another common myth is that babies turning red and grunting while passing stool means that they are constipated and need a different formula. This is normal. Of course, if you are worried about your baby’s reflux or concerned that s/he is not having normal stools, talk to your pediatrician. Do not feel compelled to try multiple types of formulas as a remedy on your own. Specialty formulas are generally more expensive, and really are not necessary most of the time.

How much should my baby eat?
All babies are different but in general, formula fed babies eat between 1-3 ounces every 3-4 hours during the first few weeks of life. Your baby will tell you how much and how often he or she wants to eat. As your baby gets older, the frequency of feedings will decrease and the amount will increase. Your baby will likely let you know when s/he is hungry by crying, and when s/he is full by stopping. Most babies need to burp after eating, and you may want to offer more formula after a burp. Do not force it if your baby does not seem to want it. If your baby has taken the entire bottle, you may also want to offer a bit more, but again, do not force it. Weight gain and the amount of wet diapers along with the amount of bowel movements are important indicators of how well your baby is eating. If you are worried, call your pediatrician.

Vitamin D Supplementation:
Formula provides most of the vitamins and minerals that newborns need, but recent evidence suggests that babies benefit from additional Vitamin D supplementation for breastfed babies. This helps with growing bones and prevents problems like rickets. You can discuss long-term plans with your pediatrician when you return home, but for starters, I would recommend giving 400 IU per day of a Vitamin D-only supplement for breastfed babies, which can be found at most drug-stores.