- Preparing the Hand feeding Formula
- How to Get Formula into the Baby – Hand feeding Techniques
- Hand feeding Schedule – First Day In a New Home
- Hand feeding Schedule – After the First Day in a New Home
- Baby Parrots Throw Up Too
- Cleaning Up After Feeding
- Syringe Maintenance
- Record Keeping
1. Preparing the Hand feeding Formula
With a little patience, anyone who can feed a baby human can feed a baby parrot.
Once a formula has been chosen read the manufacturer’s instructions a few times. Reading a few times is necessary because mixing and feeding the formula is very easy to do correctly, but our apprehensions may create questions in our minds that are better solved before the first feeding.
Preparing the food in the same area each time will make it easier to keep the process consistent and clean. The counter or area you are using and the sink should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the first feeding, and cleaned and disinfected as necessary before each feeding; your sink can be a source of contaminating bacteria and fungus. Something as simple as turning on the disposal can atomize bacteria-laden particles that can be spread throughout the kitchen and make their way into the formula. Disposals can be cleaned reasonably well by pouring a large pot of almost boiling water in once a month. This can be followed by an ice cube tray of ice that will help to scrub the inside as it swirls around.
The faucet handle, drain area and inside the spigot are the worst areas. Turn your faucet on and wipe/scrub the exposed part of the faucet stem that is not visible when the faucet is off. (An old tooth brush works well). This is an area that is seldom cleaned and usually very dirty. When using a kitchen faucet that has not been used in the last hour, allow the water to flow a few seconds, flushing out any bacteria growing inside the spigot. Once started, avoid touching anything that is not clean including the faucet, refrigerator door and drawer handles. The washcloth being used should be rinsed thoroughly after each use and allowed to dry. It may be better to use paper towels for part of the process, because washcloths can build up bacteria and bacteria and should be changed each day. The Hartman Aviary nursery is only used for babies so there is little possibility of the bacterial contamination that can occur in a home kitchen. If your feeding area is used only for feeding the baby there will be less need to continually disinfect and change washcloths.
Pay Attention! Contamination is in many places you may not be paying attention to. If you have not cleaned the refrigerator door handle and area where the bag of formula is setting in the refrigerator, you may contaminate your hand and the counter where you place the bag.
IMPORTANT! Caution: Your Formula May Be Too Hot.
Fill a cup with the hottest water you can get from your faucet. Measure the temperature with your thermometer and your finger. It should be somewhere around 130 to 150 degrees F. Watch the temperature drop, and with your finger, get a feel for how hot it is with each 5 degree drop until it gets below 100 degrees. After you know the hottest temperature you can get out of your faucet, how long it takes to cool down, and how hot it is by touch, you should never have a problem with the formula being served too hot. It is good to develop a feel for 110 degrees so you can mix the formula at about the correct temperature from the start. Just in case, always check the temperature with a thermometer before feeding.
Formula can be kept warm between mixing and feeding, and while feeding, by placing the bowl of mixed formula or the syringe full of formula into a container of water slightly warmer than feeding temperature. This allows the formula in the dish or inside the syringe to stay within the correct temperature range while you are waiting for the baby to swallow. This is the same process many mothers use to warm up a baby’s bottle.
Don’t forget that while the formula inside a syringe will stay warm for a while, the tip of the syringe that touches the baby’s beak and tongue will become cold in just a few seconds. While waiting for the baby to swallow, place the tip of the syringe in the warm water or under the flowing faucet. For best results the total preparation and feeding time should be limited to about 5 minutes. An experienced handfeeder will usually take less than 20 seconds per baby. At Hartman Aviary, we leave the water slowly running at about 110 degrees during the entire feeding process so we always have the correct temperature water for reheating the formula and wiping the babies’ beaks.
Most formulas do not need to be cooked; avoid any that require this time consuming step. Measure the amount of dry formula you think is needed into your small mixing bowl. After a few feedings, you will know how much you need and will avoid waste. Add the amount of warm water recommended by the manufacturer. A large cooking thermometer makes a great mixing utensil; stir the formula until thoroughly mixed.
Follow the manufacturer’s mixing instructions carefully. If the mixture is too thick to suck through a straw, it is probably too thick to easily travel into the baby’s esophagus. Formula too thick to pass through the crop may draw fluid from the baby to help with digestion and mobility, and may cause dehydration. Formula mixed too thin will be easy to feed, but will not contain enough nutrition and the baby may be undernourished while processing all the extra water in the formula. Some formulas, when mixed properly, are thin, others are thick, and some get thinner or thicker as they sit on the counter. This is not a problem as long as you are following the manufacturer’s directions. It is a good idea to do a couple of trial mixtures before you actually feed. As an experiment, let the mixed formula set for 10 minutes and then check its consistency and temperature.
IMPORTANT! If you switch formulas, make sure you read the directions on the new bag a few times. Different formulas may look the same when mixed, but may actually have quite a different percentage of water. Too much or too little water can slow digestion and decrease nutrient absorption. There are generally no digestive problems associated with changing formulas, but there is a taste consideration. The taste issue can be easily solved in two ways. First you can mix the new with the old for a few feedings. Second you can feed just a couple of cc’s of the new formula once an hour, two or three times. The baby will get small sample tastes and then readily accept the new formula after a few feedings.