How to bottle feed your baby correctly
If your baby has taken to the bottle, it’s reassuring to know that you’re doing it safely and properly. Follow our practical bottle feeding tips to ensure your baby is getting enough milk in comfiest way possible.
If you've never fed a baby before, or your baby won't take to breastfeeding, it can be daunting to start the process.
Our handy step-by-step guide walks you through the stages of bottle feeding, from explaining how to get your baby ready to feed to preventing consumprtion of excess air.
Make sure your baby is prepared for a feed
To prepare your baby for a feed, you should first change the baby’s nappy if dirty and choose a comfortable place to sit, preferably where your back is going to be supported by some cushions. You should ensure you have a cloth to clean up any possetted milk and perhaps something to help occupy the time, like the radio.
Get your baby in a comfortable position to latch on to the bottle teat
The position of the bottle feeding baby is not as crucial as the breastfeeding position but you still want to put your baby into a good position for him to latch on to the bottle teat and receive a good supply of milk. Hold your baby so his head is in the crook of your elbow and he is in a slightly raised position.
Always test the temperature
Test the temperature of the milk by pouring a little on to the back of your hand and then get your baby to ‘root’ (search) for the teat by stroking his cheek. The baby should open his mouth and you can put the teat in his mouth.
How to change arms safely if one gets tired
Find a good angle for the bottle to be held and let your baby feed. If you want to change arms, the best way to get your baby to let go of the teat is to insert a finger into the side of his mouth. If you don’t do that, you will be surprised by the strength of your baby's suction and you may not be able to release the bottle.
How to prevent your baby taking in excess air when feeding
At the end of the feed, or possibly earlier if your baby seems uncomfortable and grumpy, you should wind him or her thoroughly so that your little one can fall asleep without being in any discomfort. Bottle-fed babies tend to feed more quickly as a rule, and therefore tend to take in more air as they go.
Make sure that the bottle is tilted to ensure that the teat is always filled with milk and doesn’t contain any air. If your bottle-fed baby is regularly suffering from wind, you may want to experiment with using slower-flowing teats on hyour baby's bottle, or different shapes and styles of feeding bottle. Make sure that you feed your baby in an upright or near-upright position, as this will help any air bubbles to come up naturally.
What to do if your baby takes in air during a feed
If your baby pauses for a break during a feed, you can use this opportunity to tilt them gently forward against the palm of your hand while supporting their chin, and rub or gently pat their back to try and bring up any air. Don’t try and force your baby to take a “winding break” — this will probably just result in him starting to cry, and taking in more air.
If your baby suffers from a lot of wind, it might be worth changing the teat flow. A hole that allows the milk to come in to the baby’s mouth too quickly is probably overly large, and is responsible for letting the air rush in to your baby’s mouth thus creating wind.
Likewise, if your baby seems dissatisfied or exasperated by the amount of milk he or she is receiving, he/she may not be receiving a fast enough supply. You can rectify this by making the teat hole larger with a sterilised needle, or by investing in some faster flowing teats.
Bottle feeding: what to buy
If you are planning on bottle feeding your baby, you should make sure you have all the necessary equipment in advance of your delivery date. It is wise to be prepared as that way you can familiarise yourself with the equipment and procedure involved.
In large chemists and baby shops, you can choose from a range of different shapes and kinds of bottle. Handle some to see which you find easiest to hold. Smaller bottles (4oz/120ml) and teats (with slow flow) for newborns will be necessary at the earliest stage. As your baby gets a bit older, you can buy 8oz/225ml bottles that will hold more milk.
Bottle feeding equipment you will need
- Six bottles
- Six teats - make sure you get the right teat size for the age of your baby (i.e newborn, premature, 3-6 months etc).
- Sterilising equipment: can be either a microwaveable steriliser, a steamer or you can buy sterilising solution which you have to make up.
- Muslin cloths for winding
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