When you were pregnant, you may have assumed you’d end up breastfeeding your baby once they arrived. However, as many new moms discover, breastfeeding isn’t always achievable. Or, it could be you just prefer to bottle feed your baby for your own personal reasons. Whatever the reason is, bottle feeding can still be a daunting process.
Bottle feeding isn’t something you typically learn much about during your pregnancy. This means, when your little one does arrive you can find it daunting knowing exactly how to feed your baby. If you’re looking ahead, or you just want to make sure you’re doing it right, here you’ll discover everything you need to know about bottle feeding baby, and how to do it right.
First Things First – Preparation
Before actually feeding your baby with a bottle, there’s a few preparation tips you’ll need to follow first. Start by ensuring the bottles are clean (and sterilized if they’ve been used before).
Then, familiarize yourself with the directions for using the formula which you should find on the packaging. It’s important to follow these as if you use too much water, your little one isn’t going to get the nutrients they need. If you use too little water, you could find it causes baby to develop diarrhea and they could also become dehydrated.
When it comes to heating the formula up, many parents prefer to stick it into the microwave. However, this is actually a bad idea. Even though the milk may feel warm to the touch, in the middle it could be very hot. There’s also a risk the bottle can explode if it’s in the microwave for too long. So, instead it’s recommended you briefly boil the water you plan on using, for roughly one minute.
Next, add it to the formula and mix well. It’s really important here to avoid feeding baby until the formula has cooled down. Test it by squeezing a little of the milk onto your wrist. Once the water has been boiled and the formula has been mixed together, you don’t have to use it right away. Instead, you can store it in the refrigerator until feeding time. Just remember to warm it back up before feeding.
If you do store the formula in the refrigerator, don’t keep it there for more than 24 hours. You’ll also want to discard any milk leftover from a feed after one hour.
Once the formula is prepared, it’s important to feed baby in a semi-upright position. Just be sure to support the head and tilt the bottle a little to prevent them from swallowing too much air.
Never attempt to feed them while they’re laying down as this can have numerous negative consequences. Firstly, the milk could end up flowing into baby’s middle ear, resulting in an infection. Secondly, if you feed baby while they are laying down, they could start to associate laying down with feed time – bringing all kinds of problems when you’re trying to get them to sleep.
When feeding, don’t try to force baby to finish the entire bottle if they really don’t want to. It’s also recommended you feed baby on-demand, rather than following a set feeding pattern. However, as with anything parenting related, it’s entirely up to you how you want to do it.
Once baby has been fed, don’t forget to burp them. With bottle feeding, there’s more chance your little one will intake a lot of air during each feed. Unless they’re burped, they will start to become agitated and fussy. The trapped air will also be really uncomfortable so burping them after each feed is essential.
Another thing to consider is your pediatrician or doctor will likely want to know how much milk your baby is consuming. This means it’s important to keep a note of how much your baby intakes during each feed.
Additional Tips To Follow
As well as following the above advice on preparing the formula and feeding baby, there’s a few additional tips you’ll want to be aware of.
When you first start bottle feeding, your baby will have smooth gums. However, as they start teething, it’s really important to regularly check the nipple of the bottle for bite marks. If you notice there’s little bite marks on the tea, replace it as feeding baby from a damaged nipple could be harmful.
Another useful tip is to ensure you don’t prepare too many bottles before you head out with your baby. It may seem logical to prepare a few bottles in advance, but did you know made-up formula becomes unsafe for baby after 2 hours? The formula can coagulate and lose its essential vitamins quite quickly. So, if you do want to take a bottle of prepared formula out with you, it’s a good idea to use an ice pack to keep it cool. However, wherever possible it’s advisable to mix up the formula whenever you need it.
Overall, bottle feeding, just like breastfeeding, can be tricky to start with. However, if you follow the advice above and be sure to properly clean the bottles and equipment after each use, you should find it a little easier. Don’t expect instant results – allow your baby time to get used to the bottle and don’t feel bad if you don’t get the hang of it straight away – all parenting tasks are a case of trial and error.