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.
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.