Breast feeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby and benefits your health too. However, if you do bottle feed your baby, there are some important guidelines to follow. A key thing to remember is that a close and loving relationship between mother and baby whilst being either breast or bottle fed has a lasting impact on your baby’s long term development and brain growth and also provides for an important bonding experience between the two of you.
Looking at the practicalities of bottle feeding, you will need a number of bottles and teats, as well as sterilising equipment. There is no evidence that one type of teat or bottle is better than any other. All feeding bottles are made of food-grade plastic, but some have shapes or patterns that make them difficult to clean thoroughly. A simple, easy-to-clean bottle is probably best. Make sure your bottles and teats are sterilised and pay close attention to the instructions on the formula milk when making up your bottles, as they do vary.
Get everything you need ready before you start feeding. Find a comfortable position to hold your baby while you’re feeding. You may need to give your baby time. Some babies take some milk, pause for a nap, then wake up for more. Remember, feeding is a chance to feel close to your baby and get to know them.
Keep the teat full
When feeding, keep the teat full of milk, otherwise your baby will take in air. If the teat becomes flattened while you’re feeding, pull gently on the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the vacuum. If the teat gets blocked, replace it with
another sterile teat.
Holding your baby
Hold your baby fairly upright for feeds, with their head supported so that they can breathe and swallow comfortably.
Babies and wind
Your baby may need short breaks during the feed and may need to burp sometimes. When your baby does not want any more feed, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to bring up any wind. This may be a very small amount.
Throw away unused formula
Don’t forget to throw away any unused formula or breast milk after the feed.
Go with the flow
Babies differ in how often they want to feed and how much milk they want to take. Feed your baby when they’re hungry, and don’t try to force them to finish a bottle.
Don’t leave your baby
Never leave a baby alone to feed with a propped-up bottle as they may choke on the milk.
Ask for help
If you want support or further information on bottle feeding, talk to your midwife, health visitor or other mothers with experience of bottle feeding.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk