Formula Feeding Your Adopted Baby

By: Dr. Nazeli Gevorgyan - November 16, 2023 - 7 Minute Read

Formula Feeding Your Adopted Baby | The Milky Box

Bringing home your adopted baby is an incredible moment. As you embrace a new chapter, one question that might be on your mind is, “How do I provide the best nutrition for my little one?”

In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of feeding your adopted baby, offering practical advice and support for your adventure.

Can You Breastfeed an Adopted Baby? 

With dedication and planning, it’s possible to breastfeed without being pregnant, a process called induced lactation.

Breast milk provides essential nutrients and antibodies that support a baby’s growth and help protect against infections. Additionally, breastfeeding offers pleasure, skin-to-skin contact, and reduces mother’s stress as she releases nurturing hormones during the process. It also helps build trust and bonding with adopted children.

If you’re thinking about inducing lactation, your first and most crucial step is to consult your doctor. They will assess your medical history and determine if breastfeeding your adopted baby is possible in your case.

If you have months before welcoming your baby, your healthcare provider may prescribe the necessary hormones to mimic pregnancy, followed by pumping. If you have less time, the doctor may recommend different medications for induced lactation. Pumping remains essential, even after you start breastfeeding, to establish your milk supply.

Supplement your breastmilk 

Even if you successfully induce lactation, you might still need to supplement your baby with formula or donor breast milk, especially in the early weeks of breastfeeding. You can use a supplemental feeding device attached to your breast for this purpose or give supplements through a bottle. Supplemental devices can help you and your partner bond with your baby through at-breast or at-chest feeding, whether you can produce your milk or not. To maintain your milk supply, make sure to pump each time your baby is bottle-fed.

Remember, you should only use donor breast milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk.

It’s essential to recognize that induced lactation isn’t always successful and may vary from person to person. It requires significant time and effort. Your role as a mother isn’t determined by whether or for how long you breastfeed your baby. Many mothers have lovingly and effectively nourished their adopted children through formula.

Breastfeeding Your Adapted Baby | The Milky Box

Benefits of Formula Feeding

Baby formula is a manufactured food meant to resemble breast milk and offers babies all the essential nutrients they need for the first year of life. It has the benefit of allowing you to measure the baby’s nutrition precisely, and its flexibility lets other family members take part in feeding.   

Formula Choices

Infant formulas come in several types of milk, such as cow’s milk-based, goat’s milk-based, and plant-based. They vary in terms of nutrition, calories, taste, and cost. These formulas can be in powder, concentrated liquid, or ready-to-feed liquid forms and usually contain essential vitamins and minerals, with most being supplemented with iron.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using only iron-fortified formula. While some parents worry about iron leading to constipation, the iron content in infant formula doesn’t cause constipation or digestive discomfort.

The choice of the formula depends on your baby’s needs.

Cow’s milk-based formula is the usual choice, except if the baby shows signs of sensitivity or lactose intolerance (rare in newborns), such as diarrhea, spitting up, skin rashes, or poor weight gain. In such cases, a different formula may be recommended.

Goat milk formulas provide similar nutrition to cow’s milk-based options but have less lactose and smaller fat particles, making them easier on your adopted baby’s tummy.

Vegan options don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients, making them a suitable choice for vegan parents. Additionally, these formulas are typically lactose-free, which can be beneficial for babies with lactose intolerance.

Special baby formulas are for infants with health or diet problems. These formulas might need a doctor’s note.

Why Choose an Organic Formula? 

While all regulated baby formulas offer essential nutrition, choosing organic formulas has advantages like less exposure to pesticides and chemicals. Organic formulas follow strict standards from farm to production, being non-GMO, using certified organic ingredients, and excluding certain additives found in regular formulas (e.g., preservatives, flavors). 

Why Choose European Baby Formula? 

Not all-American baby formulas labeled ‘’Organic’’ meet those standards completely. In the U.S., there are certified organic and grass-fed options, but for a well-rounded choice, European infant formula companies are better.

EU rules make sure that their organic formulas go through strict checks from farming to selling. These formulas are GMO-free and pesticide-free. Cows are raised with limited antibiotic use, primarily fed with 100% grass, and the formulas contain organic lactose with no artificial additives or lactose substitutes.

EU baby formula companies understand that every child is unique and offer a variety of formula  options, which can be a unique feature of EU infant nutrition.

Baby Formula Standards | The Milky Box

What Type of Bottle?

Having discussed the benefits of organic formula for your baby’s nutrition, let’s now move on to choosing the right baby bottles to complement their feeding experience.

When selecting baby bottles, it boils down to two key factors: the type of bottle and the materials they’re made of.

Standard Bottles: These are your everyday, no-frills bottles that are dependable and budget friendly.

Anti-Colic Bottles: These are designed to prevent babies from swallowing air while feeding, helpful if your baby experiences gas or colic.

Self-Sterilizing Bottles: These can be easily sterilized in the microwave for convenience.

Disposable Bottles: They’re ready to use but can be less cost-effective and not environmentally friendly with frequent use.

When it comes to materials for baby bottles, you usually have two options: glass and plastic.

● Glass baby bottles are strong but heavy and can break if they fall.

● Plastic bottles are lightweight, won’t shatter, and many are free of BPA.

Nipple Selection

Now, let’s focus on another critical aspect: bottle nipples. 

Opt for longer, straight nipples instead of shorter, flatter ones to ensure your baby latches properly. The hole’s size in the nipple controls the milk flow. A smaller hole leads to a slower flow, which can help prevent overfeeding, spitting up, and rapid weight gain. 

It’s worth trying out different nipples to discover what works best for your unique baby.

Is Baby Getting Enough?  

To make sure your adopted baby is getting enough nutrition, keep track of how often they feed by following a feeding schedule. Watch for fullness cues after feeding, such as stopping suckling after the break, closing their mouth, and turning away from the bottle. Regular check-ups with your pediatrician help monitor your baby’s weight gain, which is a good sign of proper nutrition. Also, keep an eye on wet and dirty diapers. 

Baby's Feeding Assessment | The Milky Box

“Fed and Happy” Is What Matters Most

In the journey of formula feeding your adopted baby, remember that ‘’fed and happy’’ is what truly matters most. Your love and care are the true essentials in every moment. Whether it’s about feeding your little one with care, building a strong bond, or ensuring their health and happiness, your dedication as a parent is what makes the difference.

For a wide selection of formulas and lots of helpful information, “The Milky Box” website is your trusted source as you begin a journey with your adopted baby!


1. Happe, R. P. and Gambelli, L. (2015) ‘Infant formula’, Specialty Oils and Fats in Food and Nutrition: Properties, Processing and Applications, pp. 285–315. doi: 10.1016/B978-1-78242-376-8.00012-0.

2. Bottle-Feeding - Stanford Medicine. Available at:

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4. Breastfeeding your adopted child | Australian Breastfeeding Association. Available at:

5. Choosing a Baby Formula - American Academy of Pediatrics. Available at:

6. Induced Lactation: Breastfeeding for Adoptive Parents - American Academy of Pediatrics. Available at:

7. Types of formula milk - NHS. Available at:

8. Use of Donor Human Milk | FDA. Available at:


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Nazeli Gevorgyan is a medical doctor from Armenia, and is a researcher in the fields of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among others. Dr. Nazeli is passionate with providing women and parents with reliable and high-quality information on healthy options for infant nutrition, breastfeeding, infant formula, and food. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, traveling, and pottery. 

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Reviewed by Dr. Eric Wood, ND, MA

Dr. Wood is a licensed naturopathic doctor, with a doctorate degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada. He received his post-graduation certification in Mind Body Medicine at Harvard University.

With 15 years of experience, Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Holistic Nutrition at the American College of Health Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Wood is an educator, clinician, author, media figure, consultant, and owns his own holistic (naturopathic) medical practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Wood is currently researching and drafting books on cancer and pediatrics.

Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Wood loves singing with the Miami Lyric Opera and is an avid musician in South Florida. He also loves spending time with his wife and kids.