Tips for Bottle-Feeding
The time you spend feeding your baby is important for a number of reasons. In addition to providing the necessary nutrition to insure your child's healthy growth and development, you are also establishing a close bond with your baby. You can both use this time to get to know each other better.
Which Bottles/Nipples Should I Buy?
Bottles and nipples come in many different shapes and varieties. Check with your health care provider and other mothers for their recommendations. You may need to experiment with various nipples to find the one your baby likes, but be sure the nipple hole is small enough so that the formula drips out slowly. Rubber nipples need to be replaced every two to three months. Silicone nipples give your baby better control of the milk flow and have less odor.
Should I Warm the Bottle?
Heating your baby's bottle is optional; however, the formula should be at least at room temperature to decrease any chance of stomach upset. To heat your baby's bottle, use a pan of hot tap water. Heat the water then place the bottle in the heated water; do not use a microwave oven. Test the temperature of the formula by placing a few drops of milk on the inside of your wrist.
Never heat a baby bottle in the microwave oven because the milk may be heated unevenly and burn your baby's throat.
CAUTION: Disposable bottle bags may burst if overheated. Be careful.
How Do I Clean the Bottles and Nipples?
Rubber nipples need to be sterilized (placed in boiling water for five minutes) prior to their first use; from then on, just wash with hot soapy water or in the top rack of a dishwasher. You may find that a bottle and nipple brush is helpful for thoroughly cleaning the bottle.
Comfortable positioning for you and your baby is important. Consider placing a pillow in your lap to help support your baby and arms. Hold your baby close to you so that you can see his face, and he can feel your touch and warmth.
- The baby's head should be slightly higher than his body while he is feeding.
- Make certain that the bottle's nipple is all the way in your baby's mouth, on top of his tongue, so he'll suck in as little air as possible.
- Consider using disposable bottle bags which collapse as the baby feeds.
Most newborns take about two to four ounces of formula every two to four hours. This amount may vary based on your baby's weight and if he was born prematurely. Ask your health care provider for his or her recommendations regarding how many ounces of formula to offer at each feeding and how often. Remember, babies cry for reasons other than hunger, such as being cold, wet, lonely, or needing to burp. If it has been less than two hours since feeding, try other methods of calming your baby. Be sure to burp your baby frequently. A chubby baby is not necessarily healthier or happier.
Never leave your baby alone with a bottle propped up for him to drink. This will increase his risk of choking, and you and your baby will miss out on important cuddling.
Never allow your baby to take a bottle to bed. This practice may lead to “nursing bottle mouth.” Your baby's tooth buds are already present at birth. Nursing bottle mouth is a preventable syndrome in which teeth begin to decay due to the sugar in the milk or juice that has been allowed to bathe his teeth for many hours.
Allow your baby the chance to burp frequently. Every baby is unique. Some babies require a lot of burping, others little or none. If your baby doesn't burp in a few minutes, continue with the feeding.
A newborn bottle-fed baby should have the opportunity to burp after every one-half to one ounce of formula. Some babies do not burp immediately and may need to be put in several positions for burping. Refer to the drawings below for suggestions. If, after five minutes of trying to burp your baby, he doesn't burp and appears comfortable, he doesn't need to burp.
It is normal for some babies to spit up small amounts frequently. However, if your baby seems to gag or choke, pat him on the back. If the baby continues to have problems, turn his head downward and gently use a bulb syringe to remove whatever is in the baby's mouth or nose.
NOTE: If your baby spits up large amounts in a projectile manner after most feedings, contact your pediatrician or health care provider.
Helpful positions for burping your baby include:
Propped up with baby's tummy against your shoulder.
Lying tummy-down across your lap.
Sitting up, leaning over with your supportive hand under baby's arm.