Solved! The 4 Most Agonizing Problems for Formula Feeding Parents

I’ve been asked to become a Similac StrongMoms Ambassador to share formula tips with parents.  In fact, they sponsored this post and provided me with some of the research.  My opinions, like all moms should choose whatever works for their family (whether it’s breastfeeding OR formula),  are completely my own. 

Solved! The 4 Most Agonizing Problems for Formula Feeding Parents -

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Most formula-using parents come to the Cliffs of Doubt at some point.

It’s practically a rite of passage.

They start wondering things like…

  • Are we second-class parents for using baby formula in the first place?
  • Did we start with the right formula?
  • When should I try a new formula?
  • If I do need a new formula, which one should I switch to?

Today I’m going to go lay all these itchy fears to a comfortable rest.

A gentle reassuring breeze of self-confidence is about to blow your way…

Problem #1
Are We Second-Class Parents for
Using Formula in the First Place?

Breast is best. 

I hate that phrase.

Not because it’s isn’t true.  It IS true.  Technically.

From a simple nutritional perspective, breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby.

No, my problem with the phrase “Breast is best,” isn’t the phrase, it’s how that phrase is used.

Oftentimes there’s an agenda dangling unspoken from the other side of the period:   “Breast is best.  (And shame on you if you don’t give THE BEST to your baby…)”

It just feels too simple.  Like you’re looking at life as a black-and-white photo where everything can be categorized into “Best” and “Worst”.

But I think life is more like a Picasso:  a beautifully complicated mess of colors that can take a while to “get”.

Sometimes breastfeeding fits the life-painting perfectly.

Sometimes it doesn’t…and that’s okay.  

If you struggling with feeling guilty or shameful about your feeding choice, I would encourage you to ask yourself:

  1. Are you feeding your baby on a regular basis?
  2. Is your doctor comfortable with what you are feeding your baby?
  3. Are you meeting your baby’s physical and emotional needs?

These are the questions that really matter.  If you can answer YES! to all three of those questions, everything else is gravy. 🙂

Problem #2
Did We Start with the Right Formula?

Once you’ve gotten past the emotional hurdles of using baby formula, you’re left with the next obvious question:  Did I start with the right one?  

After all, there are hundreds.  (And I’m not even counting the off-brands!)

As Lewis Carroll advises, the best place to start anything is at the beginning.

This means (if your doctor hasn’t given you specific instructions) it’s usually best to start with a standard formula like Similac Advance.

Use that for about a week, being sure to keep a detailed feeding journal.  (Just like the FREE feeding journal included with every Milestone Marker.)

This feeding diary is very important for three reasons:

  1. Your doctor is going to ask you exactly how much he’s eating every day and trust me, you won’t just “remember”.
  2. It helps you start to see rhythms and patterns to your day, that can help you answer the “why is he crying” question.
  3. You can use it to notice how your baby is digesting the formula, helping you know whether you need to switch.

If you start to notice strange poo colors, if your baby starts arching his back, or shows other signs of discomfort, it may be time to take the next step in finding the perfect formula, which translates into our next “problem”.

Problem #3
When Should I Try a New Formula?

Once you’ve chosen the baby formula to try, the very next thought that’s going to flit through your head is inevitably:  Would things be better if I switched to a different formula?

Some babies will happily drink anything, with hardly any unpleasant side effects.

Other babies though…

They’re like that food critic in Ratatouille: a Mr. Grumpy Pants who hates 99% of everything.  The challenge is to find that mysterious 1% that fits him perfectly!

Here are the signs that a formula switch may be on your horizon:

  • Draws legs into the tummy and cries really hard until passes gas.
  • Is constantly constipated – the poop is thicker than peanut butter
  • Burps or passes gas ALL the time
  • Is much fussier than normal
  • Spits up after almost every meal
  • Projectile vomits (shoots across the room like a hose)
  • Is fine after eating, but will wake up screaming or gets really fussy about 20-30 minutes after eating.

If any of these issues are happening to your infant, give your doctor a call and discuss the next problem…which formula you should switch to.

Bubbles or Pebbles? The Lesser of Two Evils

Sometimes, in extreme cases, you have to make a decision between two formulas that aren’t perfect.  Perhaps you find that your infant gets really gassy and fussy with Good Start Protect, but gets constipated with Similac Advance.

In that case, determine which of the end results is more treatable, and then choose that formula.

For example, you could add a little prune juice to each bottle (or one bottle a day) to help soften his bowel movements, making the Advance a “perfect” formula for you after all.

Exactly how much prune juice should you add?  Depends on your baby’s weight.  Give your doctor a call and ask.  Giving too much could lead to stomach cramping and diarrhea, so be sure to get his opinion before proceeding!

Problem #4
Which Formulas Should I Switch To?

After starting with one of the standard formulas, your next step on the “Perfect Baby Formula Path” would be to work your way up the brand’s ladder.

For example, if you were using Similac Advance, your next step would be Similac Sensitive.

If things still haven’t improved after a 5-7 days on the”gentle” formula, the next step is to move up the ladder to an ULTRA-sensitive formula.

That would be Similac Total Comfort, or Good Start Soothe.  These formulas breakdown the whey protein almost all the way and are the last stop before you get to “pay-through-the-nose-hypoallergenics”.

A Quick Note About Acid Reflux

Babies who have been diagnosed with acid reflux usually have two options when it comes to formula:

  1. They can use a formula pre-thickened with rice cereal (no clumping) like Similac for Spit Up
  2. They can use a hypoallergenic formula like Alimentum.
  3. If that still doesn’t work, the doctor may put you on (what I call) a hyper-hypoallergenic like PureAmino or Neocate.

Unless your baby is violently spitting up and in danger of becoming dehydrated or not growing, it’s usually okay to try the less-expensive pre-mixed formulas first for a week and see if things improve before switching to a hypoallergenic.

A Quick Note About Switching

Usually, if you’re switching from a milk-based formula (like Advance) to another milk-based formula (like Sensitive or Total Comfort) you can switch abruptly without any tummy troubles or extra gas.

However, if you’re going from a milk-based formula to a soy-based formula (like Isomil) or a hypoallergenic you’ll need to slowly adjust the formula to help your baby’s tummy adjust.  You can learn how to do that here.

No. More. Shame.

Do you feel like you have to start every baby-feeding conversation with “I didn’t have enough…” or “I know I should…” or find some other acceptable excuse for why you’re not the terrible mother you’re afraid everyone else assumes you are?

The truth is, breastfeeding is a feeding lifestyle. Yes, it’s a great way to love and care for your baby.  It’s just not the only way to love and care for your baby.

I encourage moms to give it a try, but all parents have to weigh the pros and cons for that lifestyle by themselves.

You are more than just your feeding choice, whatever that choice is.

Doubt me?  Take a look at that sweet slobbery smile. 

He thinks you’re doing an awesome job.

What else matters? 🙂

Solved! The 4 Most Agonizing Problems for Formula Feeding Parents

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Meet Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007.  She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like,, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others.  If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.  


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  1. Can my son doctor prescribe probiotic drops for him

  2. Ok can you tell me why he does good doing the day and the gas does not bother him but when he go to sleep it wakes him up.. Please help

    • Danielle Miller says:

      I just realized that this is the third comment you have left and I didn’t see the other two, sorry about that!
      You don’t need a doctors’s prescription for probiotic drops. You can order them at
      I don’t know why the gas is worse at night but I know that is true of a lot of things…teething for one!

  3. Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for being such an amazingly helpful and positive resource in regards to formula feeding. My second child was life flighted to a NICU at a day old and we just never could get back to breast. I am struggling with feeling so guilty about it (especially since we are having bad reflux issues while trying to find a formula) so the information you give is super helpful and it makes me feel so much better. Plus you are incredibly funny. So thank you for what you do. It’s making this momma feel a lot better about things. 🙂

    • I so glad it could encourage you Ellen! That’s some scary stuff you went through, I’m so thankful that it sounds like things are improving! The worst things we can do as moms is to guilt-trip ourselves about things we cannot control. 🙂 They are absolutely blessed to have such a good mom – who’s willing to do whatever it takes, even if we feel bad about the end result. There’s a whole lot more to mothering than feeding choices. Glad to hear that this article helped lay those little nagging messages of shame and doubt to rest! xo

  4. O Ok n yes he is teething really bad is there something I can get to help besides probiotic drops…. N are the probiotic drops for the left over gas in his intestines

  5. Thank u so much!!!!

  6. Since teething causes gas will the orajel help him out n possibly make him sleep better????

  7. OK thank u I got some drops that r supposed to b Gerber soothe colic probiotic drops have u ever heard of them and do u think they good????

  8. Ok thank u so much….should I just givethem him ar night since he can only have them once a day

    • I’m not sure if it matters when you give them, but just in case why don’t you do a test? Give the drops to him in the evening for a week, making a note of how he’s doing. Then the next week switch to the morning and see if you notice any changes. 🙂

  9. Ok thank u I will do that…he is a little better but still seems like its only hard to pass the gas when he is asleep…. Strange right????

  10. asia Johnson says:

    My babe is almost 10 months and he still experience gas I changed his milk to alimemtum and I also got probiotic drops and it hasn’t changed I was wondering would it hurt him if I go ahead and put him lactaid milk

    • Danielle Miller says:


      Since this involves a question of nutrition for your little one this is a good question to take to your doctor!


  11. asia Johnson says:

    Ok thank u

  12. asia Johnson says:

    How can I help my son sleep better at night…. Last night he was a little gassy but he is still on the same formula he was on… Please help he is 10 months

  13. asia Johnson says:

    My son pediatrician said that I can try him on lactaid milk since his stomach has been so gassy from the formula…. My question to u is how should I change him to it without it hurting his stomach

    • Danielle Miller says:


      Try doing it gradually over a couple of days. Start with a bottle or two that has 25% of the lactaid and 75% of what you have been using (formula?). After that try a couple bottles at 50%/50% then a couple at 75% of the lactaid and only 25% of what you have been using. If everything goes well you will have made the switch in two days.

  14. asia Johnson says:

    Ok thank u so much

  15. asia Johnson says:

    Hello my son is about to be on in 11 days and he is on lactaid regular milk.. But he has been extremely gassy for over a week now… When he was first put on the milk the gas stopped now its back plz help

    • Asia – I found this article about the differences between milk and lactaid. You may already know all this, but for the sake of other readers, I thought I’d include it.

      If he’s on Lactaid, that means your doctor suspects a milk allergy — which puts you out of my sphere of knowledge. I’m not qualified to give any advice on this situation, unfortunately. Give your doctor a call, firstly. Am I remembering right – that he’s already on probiotics? If not, ask your doctor about that also. Also, ask your doctor about long term…is it possible that his gas right now is linked to something else? Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but perhaps this will give you a few things to ask about!

  16. asia Johnson says:

    How can i get my one yr old to sleep all night

    • Danielle Miller says:


      I highly recommend Heather’s sleep workshops. They are live workshops so you will get a chance to talk to Heather. She will help you come up with a sleep plan that works for your family!

  17. Love this website, thanks for all that great info.  I was wondering if you could shed any light on our situation.

    My baby is 11 weeks old and was BF for the first 5 weeks while supplementing with formula.  We initially tried the infant Similac which made him scream from gas pains, then he did better with Enfamil Gentlease, but was still fussy until we switched to the Gerber Gentle Good Start RTF.  He did pretty well on that with the Gerber Colic Drops until about a week-week and half ago.

    Now all of a sudden instead of eating his 4 oz easily, he’d start screaming in pain at the start of the feed, or within half of it, usually after having 2 oz.  It becomes a constant struggle to get him to finish a meal.  Sometimes I have to swaddle him, sing to him, give him breaks, etc for him to finish eating.  Our pediatrician had us switch to Nutramigen 4 days ago, so we are giving it a week to determine if it helps.  He is still very inconsistent when he cries during meals, but seems less fussy when he’s not being fed.  He’s gaining well, almost 2 oz a day so the doctor isn’t concerned.

    Our pediatrician gave us a script for Zantac in the case that Nutramigen doesn’t help within a weeks time, and then I think I would prefer to go back to Gerber Gentle or maybe try Soothe since he seemed to prefer the taste better.  If you have any advice that would be great.  Does it sound like reflux to you? He spits up but nothing excessive.  The biggest problem is the crying/screaming during feeds, although I noticed when he’s sleepy he eats better.

    Thanks in advance!


    • Danielle Miller says:


      It does sounds like acid reflux and that can often show up at around 3 months. If you decide that Nutramigen is not the way you want to go then you might want to try Gerber Soothe since it is easy to digest and has probiotics in the formula. Here’s an article about how to do the switch.
      You could also go ahead and start him on probiotic drops. They have been proven to help little ones with acid reflux. Do you have a Rock N Play? It’s a good idea to find a way to keep his head elevated (20-30 minutes after each feed) and the Rock N Play is one way to do that. Also, you can try a baby carrier for an easy way to keep him elevated and keep your hands free.

      Hope this helps your little guy!

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