Should you give your baby warm or cold formula?
It’s a debate that’s been on-going for decades, and something that undoubtedly causes a lot of confusion for new parents who wonder what will happen if they give their baby cold formula milk.
In terms of safety, there is absolutely no problem with giving your baby cold formula milk.
But there are however some specific reasons and circumstances when you may want to consider warming up your baby’s milk.
So let’s take a look at the subject in more detail, including the advantages, disadvantages and side effects of giving your baby cold milk.
Can Babies Drink Cold Formula?
If you have a healthy, full-term infant, then according to health experts you do not need to warm infant formula before feeding.
This means it’s ok for a baby to drink a cold bottle, and it’s fine for babies to drink formula directly from the fridge.
Incidentally, it is also safe to give babies cold breast milk as well.
For premature or pre-term babies, it is generally considered best to warm up milk before feeding.
The reason for this is because for babies with low birthweights, consuming milk that is cold may reduce their body temperature and require the use of extra calories to digest the milk.
Studies are inconclusive however, so there is no hard evidence to suggest giving your preterm baby cold milk is harmful.
Pros & Cons Of Giving Your Baby Cold Formula
In general the decision as to whether or not to warm up your baby’s milk will come down to personal preference.
So to help you make an informed decision, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of giving your baby cold formula milk.
Pros of Giving Your Baby Cold Formula
Faster & More Convenient
One of the main advantages to feeding your baby cold formula is that you avoid all the time and extra steps that warming milk involves.
When you work out how many feeds you baby will have over their first few years, and that some of those will be in the middle of the night during the newborn phase, then this could provide you with a significant benefit.
No Extra Equipment Needed
Many parents like to pre-heat formula using a bottle warmer.
Bottle warmers can cost up to $100 and require extra surface space in your kitchen, so there are economical and practical advantages to not using warmers or any other equipment needed to heat up your baby’s formula milk.
As we’ve covered before, formula is expensive.
In fact it’s not unusual to spend up to $2,000 on formula milk in your baby’s first year alone, so you’ll probably be eager to do all you can to reduce wastage and save some money.
Because formula should not be re-heated, one common source of wastage is throwing away formula which has been heated up but not used.
So by feeding your baby cold formula, the issue of throwing out reheated formula will be one less thing to worry about.
Avoid Risk of Overheating
Formula should never be heated up using a microwave, as this may create hotspots which could burn your baby’s mouth or tongue.
However, even if you heat up formula milk using hot water, you still need to be careful that you haven’t overheated the milk, which again could burn your baby’s sensitive skin or mouth.
Giving your baby cold milk therefore eliminate this overheating risk, because you can be sure that the temperature of the milk is safe each and every feed.
Easier When Traveling
Serving cold milk to your baby certainly makes feeding time easier when traveling with your baby by car or when feeding them on a plane.
Traveling with an infant can be a stressful experience, especially considering the huge amount of things you need to take with you for a baby vacation.
So not having to find a source of hot water each time your baby needs to feed should make things a little easier, both for long vacations and even for shorter day trips.
Cons of Giving Your Baby Cold Formula
Not Optimal For Preterm Babies
As we mentioned above, it is generally considered better to give premature babies warm rather than cold milk, due to the changes in body temperature and calories required to digest cold milk.
May Be Refused By Your Baby
One of the most common reasons why parents warm up their child’s milk is because their baby complains if they are given cold formula milk.
This could particularly be an issue if your baby is used to being fed warm milk, but you then decide to start giving them cold or room temperature milk.
So don’t be surprised if your baby who has always been fed warm milk starts complaining and crying if they are suddenly given cold milk!
Potentially Less Soothing
There is something about a warm drink that makes it quite comforting and relaxing, which may explain why many pregnant women crave hot chocolate during pregnancy.
Baby formula is no exception, and although it is not backed by science, a lot of moms believe that giving their baby warm milk is more likely to sooth and settle their baby, setting them up nicely for a long nap or good night’s sleep.
Does Cold Formula Cause Gas?
Some parents wonder if cold formula can upset a baby’s stomach and cause a lot of gas or constipation.
The answer is not straightforward, because while some parents do complain that feeding their baby cold milk leads to gassiness, there is no hard evidence to support this claim.
As we all know, all babies are different, so it’s hard to say either way if cold formula will upset your baby’s stomach or cause foul smelling gas.
So yes, cold formula could potentially upset your baby’s stomach, but then again it may not.
However, if you happen to notice any gas or constipation that you think could be related to feeding, then it might be worth speaking with a pediatrician and thinking about any changes in formula type or routine which may be causing the issue.
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