Bottle-Feeding Questions? Our Experts Have Answers!

We asked our Facebook community what questions they had about spit-up, fussiness, and what’s normal when it comes to poop. Then we turned to experienced moms (including a pediatrician!) for their best advice to help you feel more confident and your baby more comfortable, too.


Q: How should poo vary between breastfed babies and formula babies?

Nina says:
I breastfed and formula-fed my babies, and there were a few differences I noticed. Formula feeding tends to produce regular bowel movements whereas breastfeeding can vary, from as frequent as eight times a day to going several days without passing a stool. The stools can also differ in color, consistency (breastfed baby poop is pastier and formula-fed poop is more solid) and smell (formula-fed poop tends to smell).

Dr. Meg says:
We can tell a lot about the health of a baby by considering his/her poop. Breast fed babies typically have runny, yellowish stools that can be either watery or somewhat formed. They can even smell sweet. If baby takes formula, then the stools will take on a greenish brown color and have more shape. Depending upon the type of formula (whether soy or cow milk based) the odor will vary. Many parents become alarmed if poop smells bad, but this isn’t necessarily a sign of poor health, but of good health. Also, mild occasional constipation is common in babies and I recommend parents use a formula like Reguline which is designed to help babies form soft stools.

I, like Nina, fed my own four children both breastmilk and formula. I was a working mother and needed my husband to be able to feed our kids while I was away. I didn’t like pumping, so I felt perfectly comfortable giving my kids formula. One of the great benefits to having my husband bottle feed our babies was that he got to bond with them quickly too, by rocking and feeding them. This was very important to both him and our children. They are all adults today and very close to their dad.

Q: My baby is spitting up after every bottle. Is that normal?

Sarah says:
I found that with all of my children, every baby was SO different. One of my babies spit up often, while the other one never spit up. While you might not uncover the cause for their spit up, you can try some alternative options to see if they help. Removing dairy, spicy foods and other common offenders from your diet if you are breastfeeding is one thing you can try. If you are formula feeding, then switching to a thicker formula is a great place to start. Spitting up after every bottle can be normal, but you can try to reduce it with simple changes in food and position after feeding.

Dr. Meg says:
Spitting up after every feeding is very stressful for parents but it can be normal. Many mothers in particular fear that their baby isn’t getting enough nutrition but usually, this isn’t true.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sarah. The most common cause of spitting up in babies is overfeeding. My twin granddaughters spit up frequently and I put them on Enfamil A.R. which has been shown to reduce spitting up. It worked well for them. If baby is spitting up because he is drinking too fast, you may try a slower flow nipple. If he is spitting because he is eating too much (and babies can overeat) then try not to soothe his crying by feeding him. Calming a fussy baby with frequent feeds is a common mistake parents make and can actually cause babies to spit up frequently.

Aside from trying a formula created specifically to reduce spitting up, try feeding the baby smaller amounts more frequently. Taking in a smaller volume during feeding can really help reduce baby’s spitting up. And of course, be sure to feed baby in as close of an upright position as possible and make sure that for 30 minutes after he eats, he remains upright.

Q: We are taking a plane trip soon, how can I make sure my baby stays fuss-free on the flight?

Sarah says:
When traveling with baby it is important to try and stick to normal routines and feeding schedules as much as possible. If that means pulling over to feed your baby or nursing on a flight, then that is necessary. If you are flying with baby, try nursing or bottle feeding during takeoff and landing to help ease the pressure changes in baby's ears. Bringing a pacifier can also help with this.

Be sure to pack enough diapers, wipes, toys and outfit changes when you travel. Remember, babies can sense when we are stressed or worried so try and stay calm and happy and your baby will pick up on that instead!

Above all else, babies don't care about annoyed strangers or being polite. Their number one concern is themselves and their immediate needs. Just try and keep their needs met and know that most strangers will give you and baby grace when he or she isn't happy. I flew with my 3 month old (just the two of us!) and I was amazed at the kindness of strangers and thankful for the young man next to me who put earbuds in and closed his eyes when I needed to nurse my baby. Everywhere I went people were helpful and lending a hand. Don't be afraid to take their help.

Dr. Meg
says: Flying with babies can be tricky but many parents do it without a hitch. Here are a few things that I found helpful when I used to fly with my young children.

First, try to have your baby as well rested as possible before you leave. This means don’t let him skip naps or go to bed late. Babies become stimulated by the noise and people on planes and if your baby is tired, he’ll cry more easily and be harder to soothe while flying.

Second, if you feed your baby formula, measure out a feeding or two in different bottles but don’t add water until you need to feed him. Carry a supply of water that you normally use to mix with your formula to avoid any problems with unfamiliar water. Also, if your baby tends to be gassy, it may be exacerbated by flying or change of environment. If your baby has a sensitive tummy, you might try a formula like Gentlease to help ease gassiness.

Third, bring your baby’s favorite blanket, toy or pacifier and keep in your diaper bag, don’t pack in your luggage so that you can pull it out easily.

Fourth, feed your baby on takeoff and landing as Sarah suggested. This can help keep baby’s ears open, but isn’t foolproof. If you have any question whether your baby could have an ear infection before you go, be sure to visit your pediatrician first. Flying with an ear infection can be painful for babies.

Finally, be prepared for flight delays. Flying today can be stressful and delays and missed connections can be hard for babies too. Always have extra diapers, food, toys, etc. just in case. And remember, even if you do all of this, your baby may still not like flying. If this is the case, don’t worry. Just walk the aisles and smile politely at everyone.

Many parents choose to take their babies with them everywhere - on cruises, car trips, or trains and this is wonderful! If you are taking baby on any kind of extended travel trip, be sure to pack toys, prepared bottles, snacks, and several changes of clothing and keep them in a readily available diaper bag.

*These answers are not intended to be used in place of speaking with your personal physician. Please consult your physician for any medical issues and/or emergencies.


Pediatrician, mother of four, and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is the country's leading authority on parenting, teens and children's health. Dr. Meg writes with the know-how of a pediatrician and the big heart of a mother because she has spent the last 30 years practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, certified by The American Board of Pediatrics and serves on the Advisory Board of The Medical Institute.

Sarah is a Registered Nurse and mom to four children. She blogs at Must Have Mom, where she shares must have recipes, DIY projects, parenting tips and more in an effort to simplify everyday life for busy families.

Nina Garcia is a mom of three boys and the parenting blogger behind She has been helping parents for over seven years with parenting, family life, early education, being a working mom, and life with twins. She has also written several books and continues to inspire readers to engage in mindful and positive parenting.

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