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Key Pointers on Preparing Baby Formula

By Sandra Gordon

Store-brand infant formula like Member's Mark® Infant Formula is sold in powdered ...

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Why Store-Brand Infant Formula Costs Up to 50% Less3

By Sandra Gordon

When I first heard that Member's Mark® (Sam's Club baby formula) and other store-brand ...

Read More

Spotlight on ... Iron in Baby Formula

By Sandra Gordon

Member's Mark® Infant Formula, like all store-brand infant formula sold in the United States ...

Read More

Key Pointers on Preparing Baby Formula


By Sandra Gordon

Store-brand infant formula like Member's Mark® Infant Formula is sold in powdered form only. There are several key pointers on preparing baby formula that I want to share, so that you can safely feed your baby. To mix up a batch safely, follow these instructions.

  1. Wash up! Always wash your hands just like you would before preparing any other type of food.
  2. Boil new bottles and nipples for five minutes before using them the first time. After that, you can wash them by hand with warm, soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  3. After opening a formula can, clean the lid and the can opener. No dirt or dust in your baby's formula!
  4. Read the label directions on the infant formula container and follow them exactly. Instruct caregivers such as nannies, au pairs and grandparents to do the same. It's generally recommended that you sterilize the water you use to make infant formula by bringing water to a rolling boil for five minutes, and then letting it cool to lukewarm. If you want to skip this step, check with your pediatrician first. Ask your pediatrician if you need to boil the water in your area before mixing a bottle, or about using bottled water. In general, if you have city water at your house, you may not need to sterilize your water or buy special nursery or bottled water for making formula. Regular tap water will do. Public water supplies are tested regularly for contaminants and monitored more closely than commercial bottled water for impurities. If you have well water, though, get your water tested to make sure it's safe to prepare infant formula with it and feed to your baby. Contact your county health department or the Department of Natural Resources statewide office in your area.
  5. Pour the recommend amount of cooled water into the bottle, add powder and cap bottle. Use a standard measuring cup instead of bottle markings to measure water. Shake well to even out the temperature and test the formula or breast milk on the back of your hand. If it's lukewarm, it's ready for your baby.

More on preparing baby formula: do's and don'ts

DO:
  • Check the use-by date on the infant formula you buy. Each container of infant formula has a 24-month shelf life. The product may change over time due to oxidation in the container, which can happen even if it has never been opened. But as long as you use formula within the use-by date, it will taste fine and meet the nutrient information on the label.
  • Buy infant formula from reputable retailers. No matter how cheap infant formula is at eBay, craigslist, online auctions or a flea market, pass it up. Counterfeit formula can be illegally relabeled to misrepresent its true content or quality, such as changing the use-by date. Know what you're getting and buy store-brand infant formula at mainstream retailers such as Sam's Club, and its Member's Mark® baby formula brand.
DON'T:
  • Stretch infant formula by adding extra water. That's a big no-no because diluted formula won't meet your baby's nutritional needs and can cause water intoxication, which is potentially life threatening. No cost savings is worth that risk.
  • Reduce your baby's feedings to save money. Babies grow faster during their first year than at any other time of life. Reducing feedings can have serious health and developmental consequences.
  • Prepare your baby's formula with too little water. Infant formula that's too concentrated can be difficult for your baby to digest. It can cause diarrhea or dehydration and will give your baby more calories than she needs.
  • Prepare infant formula in the blender. Mixing right in the bottle minimizes the chances of contamination and besides, it's one less thing to clean.
  • Heat formula in the microwave. Ditto for breast milk. Zapping it in the microwave can create dangerous hot spots that can burn your baby. Instead, warm up bottles under running hot water or in a pan of water that's been heated on the stove for a few minutes. Don't think you need to serve infant formula warm, however. Some babies are just fine with cold formula straight from the fridge or room-temp formula that hasn't been out for more than an hour.
  • Buy formula in a dented container. Even if it's being sold at a big discount, a dented container may not be a good deal because structural damage to the can may allow air to enter, which causes formula to spoil and become unsafe for your baby to consume.

Formula fact: The powdered form is the most popular form of baby formula today, accounting for approximately 90 percent of the U.S. market share.

About the author Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's Make Room for Baby. A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.

Why Store-Brand Infant Formula Costs up to 50% Less3


By Sandra Gordon

Why are store brands less expensive? Here's the deal. When I first heard that Member's Mark® (Sam's Club baby formula) and other store-brand infant formulas have a price tag that's up to 50 percent less3 than name-brand baby formula - and that it has to be nutritionally comparable and the same high quality because all infant formulas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration - my first thought was, what's the catch? A savings of up to 50 percent is a lot, especially when it adds up to a savings of $600 or more in a year.3 How could it be that store-brand infant formula can even afford to exist? Why are store brands less expensive? It goes against that basic "you get what you pay for" tenet too, don't you think? You can pay up to 50 percent less and still get name-brand quality? Unbelievable!


Believe it. I've since learned why store-brand formula can be so much less expensive than name-brand formula and it makes "cents." Here's how it all adds up:


Marketing National brand manufacturers spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing every year in an effort to attract new moms. They use expensive tactics like television advertising and direct mail to get high-value coupons and samples into moms' hands, before they even give birth. National brand manufacturers know that if a mom initiates formula feeding with their brand, she'll get mentally "hooked" on these expensive products. All of these marketing costs are ultimately reflected in their retail prices.


Free formula samples You can get something for nothing, but you'll pay the price later. The cost of those free discharge name-brand formula sample packs that many U.S. hospitals still give to moms when they leave with their new babies is ultimately passed along to formula-buying consumers who latch on to that brand.


WIC The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) also contributes to the cost of name-brand formula. WIC provides free infant formula to low-income postpartum and breastfeeding women and infants in the U.S. who are at nutritional risk. Only brand-name infant formula manufacturers compete for WIC contracts. More than half of the infant formula used in the United States is provided to the millions of moms in the WIC program for free. The cost of the WIC program is ultimately passed along to name-brand formula-buying consumers, including WIC moms who run out of brand-name formula before month's end and feel they have to stick with the name brand. They don't. WIC moms who use formula are typically only given a three-week supply every month.

Store-brand formula is at least 50 percent less expensive3 because Perrigo Nutritionals doesn't spend nearly as much money on marketing as national brands. They don't advertise or offer free formula samples to physicians or hospitals like national-brand formula companies do either. The majority of their expenses go toward the ingredients and the quality built into their manufacturing process. And Perrigo Nutritionals doesn't participate in the WIC program.


Bottom line Why shell out for name-brand infant formula when you can save up to $10 per can3 by buying the store brand? And though it sounds too good to be true, believe it: The only difference you'll find when comparing store brand infant formula to national brands is price.

3Total savings with store-brand infant formula based on a price per fl. oz. comparison of store-brand infant formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from an August 2012 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.


About the author Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's Make Room for Baby. A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.

Spotlight on ... Iron in Baby Formula


By Sandra Gordon

Member's Mark® Infant Formula, like all store-brand infant formula sold in the United States, is fortified with iron, which is an important nutrient during the first year of life. Breast milk also naturally contains iron, though in lower amounts than iron-fortified baby formula, because the iron in breast milk is more highly absorbed.


Here's why your baby needs this mighty mineral and what you can do to make sure he or she is getting enough of it:


Iron impacts your baby's development Your baby's needs iron for proper growth and brain development. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, which is part of red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body. With enough iron on board, your baby's red blood cells can transport oxygen effectively, and the muscle cells can store oxygen like they're supposed to. Your baby's brain can also work better. Studies show that babies who don't get enough iron may develop neurological and behavioral problems. They may have a shorter attention span, grow more slowly and walk and talk later. Some of the effects may be irreversible. All told, iron deficiency and the more serious form, iron-deficiency anemia, is associated with poor development and cognitive performance in infants.


Babies come preloaded with iron Iron is so important for infants that most are born with a stash of iron; their natural stores aren't depleted until 4 to 6 months of age, which is when infants who are exclusively breast-fed may begin to receive iron supplements. (Your pediatrician may recommend it.) Preterm infants and twins are an exception. They're typically born with less iron and will run through their supply by 2 to 3 months of age. The iron babies get from fortified formula is extra health insurance, but necessary. Comparable to name-brand formula, every 100-calorie serving of store-brand formula contains 1.8 milligrams of iron. Iron deficiency has decreased since iron-fortified formulas and iron-fortified foods for infants became available, starting in the 1970s.


Iron doesn't cause constipation The iron in infant formulas like Member's Mark® Infant Formula is easily absorbed and digested by most infants. Iron in infant formula was once linked to issues such as colic, constipation, diarrhea or vomiting, but studies didn't bear this out. Infants consuming iron-fortified formula experienced no more gastrointestinal problems than infants who consumed low-iron infant formula. Switching to a low-iron formula is no longer routinely recommended for infants with colic, constipation or diarrhea. If your baby experiences these symptoms, consult your pediatrician or consider switching from regular formula to a hydrolyzed "Gentle" formula, which contains partially broken-down whey protein, to see if that helps.

Iron deficiency is surprisingly common Despite the widespread use of fortified infant formula and the routine use of iron supplements in breast-fed babies, iron is the most common single-nutrient deficiency in the U.S. and a cause of anemia in young children. Twelve percent of infants are estimated to have iron deficiency at 12 months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Up to 15 percent of toddlers 1 to 3 years old are likely to be iron deficient.


To measure iron, children have their hemoglobin checked at well-child checkups, at 9 and 12 months of age, and again at 15 and 18 months of age. Be sure to visit the pediatrician on schedule for this important blood test. To reduce the risk of iron deficiency, be sure your child gets plenty of iron-rich foods once he begins to eat solids, such as iron-fortified cereal as a first step. Then gradually introduce other iron-rich foods according to your pediatrician's timetable, including meat, which contains a highly absorbable form of iron, beans and peas, and iron-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as fruits rich in vitamin C, which will help your child's body absorb iron. Check with a pediatrician to see if your child may also need a liquid iron supplement or a chewable iron-containing vitamin as well.


About the author Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's Make Room for Baby. A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.