Bottle feeding is something most new parents have to get to grips with at some point. It could be you’ve chosen to use formula to feed your baby, or maybe you’re leaving baby with a caregiver and you need to pump breast milk to be fed throughout the day. Whatever the reason, it isn’t always as straight forward as you think it’s going to be.
If you’re wondering how and when you should bottle feed your little one, below you’ll discover 10 top bottle feeding tips that will make the process easier.
1. Always Feed When The Baby Is Hungry
When breastfeeding, it’s good to get into a routine. However, with bottle feeding experts actually suggest it’s better to feed your baby whenever they are hungry. That way, you aren’t forcing them to eat when they’re not ready. More importantly, you should never hold off feeding your baby when they are hungry as this can lead to neurological and physical development problems.
You can tell if your baby’s hungry by looking out for little signs such as sucking on their hands, fussing and squirminess. Crying is typically one of the last signs they’ll resort to when they’re hungry.
2. Don’t Over-feed
This tip largely applies to those both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. It’s estimated babies need 19-30 ounces of milk every day. If you’re going to be away and you’re relying upon somebody else to feed them, you’ll need to leave approximately 1.5 ounces of milk for every hour you’re not there. There’s actually a great breastmilk calculator available here, which allows you to work out exactly how much milk you’ll need to leave.
Remember, your baby’s tummy is only small so they don’t need a lot of milk in one sitting. Don’t try and force them to drink the whole bottle. Instead, follow their lead and recognize when they’re full.
3. Feed Them In The Right Position
Never try to feed your baby while they’re lying flat on their back. They should be in the same sort of position they would be when nursing, so at a 45-degree angle. Hold the bottle horizontally to baby’s mouth. It’s natural for them to swallow a little air and this will come out through the nose so there’s no need to panic too much.
If you do try to feed them while they’re lying flat on their backs, it leads to a risk of tooth decay and ear infection. They will also swallow a lot more air this way, leading to problems with gas.
4. Wait A While Before Introducting The Bottle
Again this tip applies to those hoping to breastfeed as well as bottle feed. In this situation it’s always best to wait until your baby is comfortable breastfeeding. This is because the way they feed from the breast and bottle is completely different. Feeding from the breast requires a little more work. Therefore, if they realize the bottle is easier they could start rejecting the breast altogether.
It’s recommended that you wait 3-8 weeks before introducing a bottle if you’re breastfeeding too.
5. Be Aware Of Allergies
If your baby starts to vomit, is fussier or develops hives after bottle feeding, it could be a sign they are allergic to the formula. Babies are not allergic to breast milk, but many do develop allergies to formula. It could just be the type of formula you’re using and switching to another one will help. It’s best to consult a doctor to establish the cause of any unusual symptoms and having the allergy properly diagnosed.
6. Allow Someone Else To Bottle Feed
There are two advantages of allowing somebody else to bottle feed your baby. Firstly, it encourages your baby not to get too attached to you feeding them. This is essential if you’ll be relying upon a caregiver to feed your little one while you’re away. Secondly, they may find it upsetting and strange at first if they’re used to breastfeeding. Obviously if you’re purely bottle feeding with formula this tip won’t apply.
7. Building A Bond
One thing that you’ll often be told is that breastfeeding is best because it helps you develop a strong bond with your baby. While this is true, it’s also possible to develop a strong bond when bottle feeding too. Don’t assume you’ll miss out just because you’re bottle feeding. It’s all about creating the right environment.
Touch is especially important during feed times. So hold baby close when giving them a bottle. Eye contact is equally as important so don’t look away. Be present when you’re bottle feeding, rather than looking around worrying about all of the tasks you need to get done. This is yours and your baby’s time together, so treasure it!
8. Getting The Right Temperature
The milk should be room temperature, with the nipple of the bottle being lukewarm to touch. If it feels hot or cold, then it’s not right. If using breast milk in the bottle, never heat it in the microwave or on the stove. Instead, place the bottle into hot water to warm it up.
9. Do Not Shake The Bottle
With formula you can get away with shaking it up a bit, but breast milk actually separates once it’s been stored if it is shaken up. Instead, swirl it around a little to mix it together. This is an especially good tip for parents feeding with bottles during the night or for the care giver during the day when you’re not around.
10. Remember To Burp Them Half Way Through
As mentioned earlier, small amounts of air can be swallowed during feeding, making it important to burp your little one halfway through the feed. This will help to avoid painful gas and stomach pains. You can also try burping them if they get a little fussy at any point during the feed.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when you bottle feed. These are just some of the basics you need to be aware of. As with any new technique, it may take time for your baby to get used to bottle feeding; especially if they are used to breastfeeding. Persistence is key and you should find that the 10 bottle feeding tips above really help to make it easier. And of course, if you have any tips of your own, we’d love to hear them as well!