It is universally accepted that breastfeeding is the best option for babies. But if you’ve decided – for whatever reasons – to bottle feed your baby, then you should carry on with it and not feel guilty about your decision.
Here are the most frequently asked questions by bottle feeding mums:
Reasons why mums bottle feed
There are many reasons why a mother decides to bottle feed. Here are some of the more common reason why a mother bottle feeds rather than breastfeed her.
- The mother does not wish to breastfeed. This could be for all sorts of reasons such as, emotional reasons, social reasons, or many other reasons. Whatever your decision, remember: it’s your decision, so stick to it and don’t pay any heed to what others may say: bottle feeding does not make you a bad mother; breastfeeding does not make you a good mother.
- Some babies are not able to breastfeed due to illness or because of a congenital condition such as being allergic to the mother’s milk.
- The mother may be ill and cannot produce enough breast milk.
- The mother is going back to work and her workplace does not provide facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. Sadly, this is all too common.
- The baby may be adopted and the mother may not be lactating.
What equipment do you need for bottle feeding?
Make no mistake; bottle feeding is not a cheap option. You’ll need all of the following.
- Plastic bottles.
- Bottle teats – these will wear out and need replacing
- A bottle steriliser – electric or microwave or you may choose to use a chemical sterilisation formula – available in tablet or liquid formula.
- Stored breast milk
- Infant milk formula. Choosing which one is often a confusing business.
What baby infant formula milk to use?
- First off, never feed your baby cow’s milk – or any other natural milk. Feed your baby an infant milk formula. Any brand is acceptable, as all pass certain standards as set by all government agencies.
- Standard infant artificial formula – look out for the label stating: “suitable from birth”. This formula milk is for babies up to 12 months of age. Standard infant artificial formula is usually cow’s milk based, but may be soy or goat’s milk based. Soy may be preferred by vegan mothers or if the baby cannot tolerate cow?s milk protein. However, unless there are compelling reasons against using cow’s milk based artificial formula, it is the recommended choice.
- Follow-on infant artificial formula – suitable only for babies over six months. This is for babies’ over 6 months of age – never give your new born this type of milk.
- Thickened artificial formula – is sometimes recommended for babies who frequently “posset” or regurgitate large amounts after feeding – this is often called reflux. The idea of thickened formula is that it settles more in the stomach and therefore stays there! However, thickened artificial formula does not always solve the problem. You should consult your doctor before using this type of milk formula.
- Premature infant artificial formula – is specifically designed for the nutritional needs of a premature baby. Only use this type of formula after medical consultation and it is not suitable for healthy term babies.
Learn more about baby formula here.
How to bottle feed a baby?
- Choose a teat to suit the age of the baby – the flow of milk will vary depending on their age.
- Sterilise bottles and teats
- Always wash hands before preparing a bottle feed.
- Wash all equipment in warm soapy water using a bottle brush and rinse with cold water.
- Sterilise equipment either by boiling in a saucepan for 5 minutes, using a microwave or electric steriliser, or a chemical solution.
- Warm bottle to room temperature.
- Don’t use a microwave as it can cause “hot spots” in the milk that may burn your baby’s mouth.
- Always test the temperature of the milk before feeding. The old traditional method of sprinkling a few drops on the under-side of your wrist is still the best method. It should feel slightly warm but never hot.
- Never leave a baby with a bottle unattended as this could cause choking and tooth decay.
- Always replace any damaged cracked bottles or teats straight away.
- Throw away any unused milk (breast and formula), as it is unsafe to reheat due to risk of growing bacteria.
- Make sure you are sitting comfortably when you feed your child. Your baby can take some time to finish and a crotchety mother will upset a child.
- Your baby should be held in a semi-reclining position with their head slight tilted back.
- Try not to force the nipple into your baby’s mouth. Instead, do what breastfeeding mothers are taught to do: stimulate your baby to accept the nipple by gently touching her lips with the nipple (teat).
- During the feed, make sure that air bubbles are flowing into the bottle, replacing the milk that is drunk. If you can’t see any air bubbles, while she’s feeding, slowly loosen the nipple ring (the part that attaches the nipple to the bottle) until you can see bubbles. Take care not to loosen it too much, as this will cause the milk to leak all over him.
- Take your time; allow for ‘pit stops’. During these times, gently rub your child’s back to stimulate burping.
If you decide to bottle feed, then learn by paying close attention to your baby. By doing so, you will learn all the subtle signals that your baby gives out, making feeding time a beautiful and emotionally rewarding time for the both of you.