Infant formula advice on the trail

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May 14, 2015
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South Deerfield MA
Hey Folks,

I'm looking for advice on feeding a little one on the trail for a few hours to a few days. As adoptive parents, we have to exclusively use infant formula, but most websites assume that parents are breastfeeding. Does anyone have any guidance on using infant formula on the trail?


No advice - we waited until the kids were out of diapers to do anything longer than a day hike. The kids' first overnight backpacks at age 3 were actually a big deal for them and ended up being quite special. Enjoy! All of it is so magic for them when they're little. Then they get to be teenagers and have opinions about everything.... ;-)
Likewise - though the kid hasn't had an actual overnight backpack yet (it's been either day hikes or car camping), and he's 10. I'm not sure what kind of advice you're looking for. You obviously already know how to mix formula and give it to the kid.

Things I might be thinking about in your shoes:
1) stove system. Warm (body-temperature) milk is recommended, and on cold nights rather important, compared to streamwater-cold milk. You want a stove, a backup stove for overnights, and a big pot that your bottle fits in easily.

2) water supply. You don't necessarily have to boil the water before mixing, but I'd use a good filter. Giardia in an infant would get pretty serious.

3) bottle hygiene. If you're not already using those collapsible plastic bags, try them. They get way less air into them (cause less burping) than conventional bottles, and they take almost no pack space, so you can bring lots. Treat them as disposable (but carry out) - don't bother trying to get them thoroughly clean after use, at least until you get home. Change nipples at least as often as you normally would, and carry a few extra for when one inevitably falls into the mud. (Ditto extra pacifiers, times a thousand.)

And of course, have plenty of tightly-sealing waste bags for carrying out diapers.
Day-hiked and alternated between carrying on my back and getting a jogging stroller. Before children, I forgot more WMNF logging woods and trailheads than I knew in CT. between parenting and then being a scout volunteer and twenty years later, I know almost as much about CT hiking as I do in the Whites.

Between all the additional weight for feeding bottles and infant formula carrying diapers in and carrying them out, I'd wait.
One more experience I'd forgotten about. When our first kiddo was maybe 10 months old, we took him on a short winter hike near Pinkham. I had him in a chest carrier under my jacket fully enclosed in a fleece suit, and between the layers and my exertion we were both quite toasty - except for his little feet, which I later realized were hanging down just barely inside my jacket, but not getting the same heat as the rest of him. He didn't complain, and I didn't notice the problem, until we got back to Pinkham and I realized his feet were really cold. No frost bite or anything, but he was pretty unhappy as they warmed up, and he let us know in no uncertain terms. I went from hero to zero pretty quickly there inside Pinkham. So mind the feet if you carry a kid inside your jacket.