Like pretty much everything that comes with looking after a new baby, bottle feeding can take a bit of practice to gain your confidence. But, rest assured, keeping your bundle of joy well fed and content is a breeze when you have a few simple tips on your side.
Here are our top 5 tips for bottle feeding your baby.
Use clean, good quality bottles and accessories
First and foremost, it pays to have a selection of quality bottles you can rely on for the many bottle-feeding months ahead. If you look after your bottles and accessories, you will not only keep your baby healthy and safe, but save time and money in the long run. You will also need to learn how to properly clean and sterilise the equipment. Start by washing it all in hot soapy water and give it a scrub with a specially-designated brush. Rinse it all out and leave it to air dry on a clean cloth. There are a few ways of sterilising your feeding equipment, such as boiling, microwaving or using a chemical cleaner. Talk to your child health nurse about what they recommend to find a solution that works best for you.
Preparing the milk
If you are using formula, make sure you follow the instructions on the tin to the exact degree. The amount of powder you use for each feed has been specifically determined by the manufacturers to give your baby all the nutrients and calories she needs - so don’t alter the quantities unless you have been instructed by a professional. Formula is often heated in the microwave, but if you are warming expressed breast milk, place the filled bottle in a container of warm water to gently and safely heat it through. Of course, it goes without saying, ALWAYS test the temperature of the milk before giving it to your baby. The underside of your wrist is a good place, as the skin there is quite sensitive.
Make sure the flow is right
There are different teats recommended for different ages, which vary according to the size of the hole in the top (or multiple small holes) that determine how fast the milk comes out. Newborn babies need a very slow flow, as they won’t cope with a great big mouthful at a time, but as they grow this will need to increase. You will know if the flow is not right; either your baby will appear to have to work too hard for a drink and become fussy, or she will obviously struggle with a flow that is too great. It may take a little experimenting, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right sometimes.
Hold baby close
Once you are prepared, it’s time to snuggle up and enjoy some quiet time with your baby while she enjoys her lunch. Sitting with your baby while she feeds is not only a beautiful bonding experience, but will keep your bub safe. Allowing her to go to bed with a bottle can pose a choking risk and over time potentially damage teeth. Letting her lay down and feed on her own may also cause discomfort from built-up air in her tummy, as well as ear infections from milk flowing into her ear cavity.
Instead, get comfortable and hold your bub gently but firmly and on a slight angle upwards. Take a break when she has drunk about half the bottle and give her an opportunity to burp up any air. This will ensure she stays comfortable and actually drinks the amount she needs. Once she seems happy, offer the rest of the bottle, but don’t be too concerned if she refuses to finish it; just like the rest of us, her appetite will vary from day-to-day.
Discourage snoozing during meals
This is a hard one, but important to include in a list of bottle-feeding tips. While it is a lovely way to comfort your baby into the land of lullabies, allowing your baby to routinely nod off during feeds can set up a couple of issues. The first is that she just won’t feed enough in one go, so she may not sleep for as long as she ordinarily would and then wake hungry - then promptly fall asleep again. The other potential issue here is that it can create a reliance on the comfort of food to allow her to fall asleep. While this is a habit that can be broken as she grows, if you can avoid the association between milk time and sleep, it will make life a little easier later on. To combat this, use gentle tactics such as lightly tickling her feet, burp her more frequently, switch positions or change her nappy mid-meal.
Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Bioscor.