Breastfeeding is always preferable to bottle feeding, but if you are about to start bottle feeding your baby you should first talk to your midwife about the advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding. Here are some bottle feeding tips to help get you started.
There are three types of infant formula. Powdered formula is the cheapest and the most widely used. You have to mix the powder with sterilized water. Concentrated formula is in liquid form. Like powdered formula, you have to first mix it with sterilized water before feeding it to your baby. It is more expensive than powdered infant formula. The third type is read-to-feed infant formula. You simply open the carton and feed it to your child. It is the most expensive of the three types of infant formula.
Always follow the mixing instructions provided. It is sometimes tempting to add a little bit more, especially if you believe your child is extra hungry. But infant formula has been specially prepared to give your baby the correct dosage of ingredients, so you shouldn’t deviate; giving too much formula can be bad for your child, especially over the long term.
Never use any infant formula that has passed its sell-by date.
Always use clean plastic or glass bottles. These should have previously been washed in hot soapy water and then sterilized. There are various sterilizing devices on the market. Some electrical ones – the easiest to use by far – just require you to place the cleaned bottles in a plastic holder. You close the lid and turn it on. A light will usually indicate when the bottles have been sterilized. You can also buy plastic sterilizers that are designed to be used in a microwave. If you have neither, then you can sterilize your baby’s milk bottle by placing them is a saucepan of boiling water and leaving them in it for 5 minutes.
To prepare formula, boil water for five minutes and cool it before mixing it with powdered or concentrated formula. If you are using bottles with disposable liners, throw away the liner after use. You can store prepared infant formula in the fridge for up to 48 hours. You can reheat the infant formula by running it under a hot tap. Never warm your baby’s milk using a microwave; it can get too hot.
The old fashioned way of testing the temperature of your baby’s milk still works best; simply shake a few drops on to the underside of your wrist. If it feels warm but not hot it is ready to give to your baby.
When feeding your baby, make sure her head is a little higher than her tummy. You should keep the bottom of the bottle raised so that the nipple stays full of milk at all times, so that air doesn’t get in. If your baby drinks formula mixed with air she may spit up. Hold your baby close and look into her eyes as you would do when breastfeeding.
Finally, bottle feeding has one huge advantage over breastfeeding. That is other members of the family can bottle feed your baby. It’s a great way to get dad and older siblings to get involved care for baby.