Here’s how to bottle-feed your baby

Here’s everything you need to bottle-feed your baby, whether you’ll use formula, breastmilk, or a combination of both.

Here's how to bottle-feed your baby
 These ideas will help you get started with bottle-feeding. | Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash

Do you have concerns about bottle-feeding your baby? The good news is that most babies figure out how to suck from a bottle nipple with relative ease, especially if you begin using bottles early on.

Here is everything you need to get started bottle-feeding your baby, whether you’ll be using formula exclusively, combining it with breastfeeding, or using bottles to serve up expressed breast milk.

When should you introduce your infant to a bottle?

If you intend to bottle-feed your infant, you should begin immediately after birth. However, if you are breastfeeding, it is recommended that you wait around three weeks before introducing a bottle. Not because of “nipple confusion” (which is questionable), but because your breasts may not be stimulated enough to produce an adequate milk supply.

10 Tips for bottle-feeding

  1. If you are serving formula, carefully follow the preparation instructions on the container. Remember that too much or too little water to powder ratio could be hazardous to the health of a newborn.
  2. To warm the bottle, rinse it briefly under warm to hot water, place it in a bowl or saucepan of hot water, or use a bottle warmer. If your baby is content with a cold bottle, you can omit the warming step entirely. Never microwave a bottle; doing so can cause hot patches that could burn your baby’s mouth.
  3. Freshly expressed breast milk does not require heating. But if it’s from the refrigerator or was recently thawed, you can reheat it similarly to a bottle of formula.
  4. Never add baby cereal to a bottle of formula or breast milk. Cereal will not help your infant sleep through the night, and babies may have difficulty swallowing it or even choke on it. In addition, your child may gain too much weight if she drinks more than she should.
  5. Before feeding, give formula-filled bottles a thorough shake and breast milk-filled bottles a gentle swirl, then test the temperature with a few drops on the inside of your wrist to determine whether it is too hot. If the liquid is lukewarm, it is safe to consume.
  6. Position yourself (comfortably) for bottle-feeding. Your baby’s head should be supported by the crook of your arm at a 45-degree angle, with her head and neck aligned. Keep a pillow at your side for your arm to rest on to prevent it from becoming fatigued.
  7. As you feed the infant, hold the bottle at an angle rather than vertically. Holding the bottle at an angle allows milk to flow more slowly, giving your infant greater control over how much she is ingesting. It also prevents her from taking in too much air, hence lowering the likelihood of unpleasant gas.
  8. Approximately halfway through the bottle, switch sides.
  9. During the feeding, observe your baby’s appearance and sounds as she sucks. If your baby gulps or spits during feedings and milk drips from the corners of her mouth, the flow rate of the bottle nipple is likely too high.
  10. If she appears to exert much effort while sucking and appears frustrated, the flow may be too slow. If this is the case, loosen the cap slightly (a too-tight cap can generate a vacuum) or try a different nipple.

Bottle-feeding issues and remedies

Despite the fact that bottle-feeding is often simple to initiate, issues can occasionally arise. These are a few common problems that are usually easy to resolve.

Your baby wriggles, cries, or moves her head away from the bottle during feeding

She may have gas in her stomach. If she appears uncomfortable or turns away from the bottle but is not full, try burping her to help her expel the air bubbles.

Your baby falls asleep during a feeding

First, ensure that she is indeed asleep. She may be sucking so happily that it appears she has departed for La-La Land, but in reality, she is only taking her time sucking down her bottle’s contents. If she has truly fallen asleep, gently rouse her sufficiently to complete the meal. Try removing some of her clothing, tickling her feet, burping her, rearranging positions, or even changing her nappy.

Your baby has a runny nose

Cold congestion can make it difficult for your baby to suckle. Utilise a cool-mist humidifier, over-the-counter saline drops, and a suction bulb to assist in clearing some of the mucus, and continue to offer bottles as usual.

Your baby frequently appears uncomfortable following feedings

She may have an intolerance or allergy to cow’s milk protein, the principal constituent in the majority of newborn formula. Consult her paediatrician if she exhibits symptoms such as crying after eating, poor feeding, wheezing, digestive issues, wet or puffy eyes, or a rash. The remedy may be as simple as changing your baby’s formula to one that he or she can accept.

What type of bottle should you give your baby?

Choosing the ideal bottles and pacifiers for your baby can be difficult due to the number of available alternatives. Ask friends for recommendations, read product reviews, and conduct research, but also be willing to experiment.

Ultimately, the key to selecting the ideal bottle-nipple mix is discovering your child’s preferences. Some infants favour a certain nipple shape or bottle variety, while others are not choosy. Try a couple of alternatives before stocking up.