How Do I Make Baby Formula Taste Better?

You can mix the old formula brand with the new formula brand and slowly decrease the amount of old formula in the next few days. You may simply switch to other formula brands. It’s not advisable to add sugar, honey, or other sweeteners to formula. Mixing breastmilk and formula should not be done either.

Maybe you’re transitioning from breastfeeding or chestfeeding, and your little one refuses to drink. Maybe you’re switching to a different milk brand as per the advice of your pediatrician. Maybe, you’re changing your baby’s milk out of safety or financial reasons.

Whatever the reason may be, let’s discuss why it can be a challenge for some infants to adapt to formula milk.

Before we discuss how to make formula tastier for babies, let’s discuss first the possible reasons why they don’t want it in the first place.

Why your baby might not want formula – and what to do

A bowl of baby formula is next to a prepared bottle of baby formula milk.

Milk preparation

Sometimes, simply following instructions well while preparing your baby’s formula makes all the difference.

All formula packages come with instructions on how to mix the powdered formula. This includes the amount of water needed and the amount of formula to mix.

This also specifies how to properly store formula milk and the expiration date. Following instructions ensures your child receives the right amounts of nutrition, in the right flavor and texture.

Another important step in milk preparation is hygiene. Caregivers in charge of preparing formula should wash their hands thoroughly and use sterilized bottles.

Water should be clean and safe for drinking; sterilized water is the safest, although you can also boil water taken from a safe source. You can always discuss with your healthcare provider regarding safe sources of water.

Similar to breastmilk, heating formula can be done by either placing the bottle in a bowl with warm water, or running tap water over the body of the bottle, or using a bottle warmer.

A microwave can heat up milk unevenly, causing certain areas of the milk to run much hotter than what we can perceive by touch. To be safe, you can check how hot the milk is by placing a drop or two on your skin.

When mixing ingredients, make sure to use the right amounts of water and formula. Add formula to water and swirl gently; avoid shaking the mixture in the bottle. 

They simply prefer breastmilk

Mom is breastfeeding her newborn baby, after finding that he prefers that over being bottle-fed formula milk.

Breastmilk is one versatile source of nutrition: the amount of nutrients and immune factors can be adjusted based on the baby’s needs. Additionally, breastmilk is already warm, coming straight from the parent’s chest.

You can troubleshoot this by slowly weaning breastmilk. You can also imitate other aspects of breastfeeding or chestfeeding, such as skin-to-skin contact, using clothing with the scent of the nursing parent (like a scarf), and warming up the milk first.

Some parents advise comparing the size of the teat or nipple and matching this to the parent’s nipple size.

Maybe they want solids instead

Is your baby 4 months and older? Have you started complementary feeding? Some infants might just prefer the taste of solid foods.

Although this is a good sign that you can progress your child to solid foods (and later on, table foods), they would still need milk to help sustain their nutrition until they’re at least one year of age.

They might need a gentler formula

Mom and baby are playing on the carpet.

Some infants don’t adjust well to formula.

They develop gassiness or bloatedness, loose stools or irritability, and fussiness because they simply cannot tolerate some substances found in formula, like lactose or other proteins. This includes the possibility of an allergic reaction.

Pediatricians will most likely advise switching to a gentler formula. Commonly used formulas include Enfamil Gentlease and Gerber Good Start.

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When switching formula, it’s best to give it a chance — take 7 to 14 days to observe how well your child is adjusting.

Take note of signs of tummy upset, which include bloatedness, excessive burping, spit-ups, changes in stool, and increased crying or fussiness.

They could be sick

A sick newborn baby is crying and not feeling well, refusing to drink his formula milk.

Sometimes, feeding can trigger discomfort or pain when a child is already sick. If you have addressed other possible reasons listed above, it’s best to set that appointment with your friendly pediatrician to rule out any illnesses.

How to make formula taste better

Don’t make it sweeter

It sounds strange and counterintuitive.

Sugar? No. Honey? No. Vanilla extract? No. Infant cereal? No, if they’re less than 4 months old.

Your child has everything they need from milk for the first 4 to 6 months of life. Adding an extra source of sugar or other carbohydrates makes them prone to infant obesity, which gives them a higher risk of other illnesses as they grow older.

Don’t mix it with anything else but formula!

Yes, not even breastmilk. If you’re transitioning from one formula to another, you can prepare both formulas in separate containers.

Mix half of the old formula with half of the new formula in a bottle. Slowly decrease the amount of old formula, until your baby becomes used to 100% of the new formula.

Patience is a virtue

Most children take roughly 2 to 6 weeks to transition to a new brand of formula milk. If you feel that the current formula is on your baby’s rejected list, then try to change to a different formula.

This may take time, but it’s worth the effort once you find the formula they prefer. If you’re unsure of which formulas to try, a friendly visit with your pediatrician may help.

FAQs

I’ve tried everything else but nothing has worked. Can I add some sugar, honey, or vanilla extract to the formula to make it taste better?

Although it is much safer not to add anything else to the formula, you can always ask your pediatrician or a local healthcare provider about other options. They may advise to add or not on a case-to-case basis.

What are other signs that my baby doesn’t like formula that I should watch out for?

Common signs included bloatedness, changes in stools, spit-ups and vomiting, irritability, or fussiness. Other signs to watch out for include:
-Not enough weight gain
-Rashes
-Dry, itchy, scaly skin
-Excessive body weakness

Conclusion

Your baby might be hesitant to take in a new type of formula for various reasons — it could be the taste, texture, or the substances in the formula milk.

Improper milk preparation and your baby’s personal preferences are also possible causes. Only other formula brands may be mixed with formula to make it taste better.

Breastmilk and sweeteners in formula milk are highly discouraged.

Sarah is a healthcare writer, motivated by her love of reading books while growing up. She took up human biology and further studies in medicine, in order to fulfill her passion for helping kids. While she isn't a biological mother yet, she has taken two young dogs, named Indy and Obi-Wan, under her wing. She would love to someday travel the world and meet kids from different cultural backgrounds.

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