Whether you’ll be feeding formula exclusively, combining it with nursing or using bottles to serve up expressed breast milk, here’s everything you need to get started bottle-feeding your baby.
Bottle-feeding a newborn
Good news: Most newborns have little to no trouble figuring out how to suck from a baby bottle nipple, especially if you’re using bottles right from the beginning. Finally, one thing that seems to come naturally!
Besides being relatively easy to get the hang of, there are other benefits to offering bottles early on. For one, it’s convenient: Your partner or other caregivers will be able to feed the baby, meaning you’ll have the chance to get some much-needed rest.
If you’re bottle-feeding formula, there are the added perks of not having to pump — or worry that there’s not enough milk when you have to be away. Any caregiver can make a bottle of formula for your little eater whenever she needs it.
When should you introduce a bottle to your baby?
If you’re only bottle-feeding your baby, you should obviously start right after birth.
If you’re breastfeeding, however, it’s recommended that you wait about three weeks until introducing a bottle. Bottle-feeding earlier could potentially interfere with the successful establishment of breastfeeding, not because of “nipple confusion” (which is debatable), but because your breasts may not be stimulated enough to pump up supply.
If you wait much later, though, baby may reject the unfamiliar bottle in favor of the breast because that’s what she’s gotten used to.
How to bottle-feed your baby
When introducing the bottle, some babies take to it like a fish to water, while others need a little more practice (and coaxing) to get sucking down to a science. These bottle-feeding tips will help you get started.
Prepare the bottle
If you’re serving formula, read the prep directions on the canister and carefully stick with them. Different formulas may require different ratios of powder or liquid concentrate to water if you’re not using ready-made formula. Adding too much or too little water could be dangerous to your newborn’s health.
To warm the bottle, run it under warm to hot water for a few minutes, put it in a bowl or pot of hot water, or use a bottle warmer. You can also skip the warming altogether if your baby is content with a cold drink. (Never microwave a bottle — it can create uneven hot spots that might burn your baby’s mouth.)
Freshly pumped breast milk doesn’t need to be warmed. But if it’s coming from the fridge or recently thawed from the freezer, you can reheat it just like a bottle of formula.
No matter what milk is on the menu, never add baby cereal to a bottle of formula or pumped breast milk. Cereal won’t help your baby sleep through the night, and babies can struggle to swallow it or even choke. Plus, your little one might pack on too many pounds if she’s drinking more than she should.
Test the bottle
Before you start feeding, give formula-filled bottles a good shake and gently swirl bottles filled with breast milk, then test the temperature — a few drops on the inside of your wrist will tell you if it’s too hot. If the liquid’s lukewarm, you’re good to go.
Get into (a comfortable) bottle-feeding position
You’ll likely be sitting with your baby for at least 20 minutes or so, so settle in and relax. Support your baby’s head with the crook of your arm, propping her up at a 45-degree angle with her head and neck aligned. Keep a pillow by your side for your arm to rest on so it doesn’t get tired out.
As you feed the baby, keep the bottle at an angle rather than straight up and down. Holding the bottle at a tilt helps milk flow more slowly to give your baby more control over how much she’s taking in, which can help prevent coughing or choking. It also helps her avoid taking in too much air, reducing the risk for uncomfortable gas.
About halfway through the bottle, pause to switch sides. It’ll give your baby something new to look at and, just as important, give your tired arm some relief!
Do a nipple check.
During the feeding, pay attention to how your baby looks and sounds as she sips. If your baby makes gulping and sputtering sounds during feedings and milk tends to dribble out of the corners of her mouth, the flow of the bottle nipple is probably too fast.
If she seems to work very hard at sucking and acts frustrated, the flow might be too slow. If that’s the case, loosen the cap a tiny bit (if the cap is too tight it can create a vacuum), or try a new nipple.
Post time: Dec-14-2022