Bottle feeding basics for new parents

bottle feeding basics for new parents

Should you buy ready-to-feed or powder? Milk-based or soy? If you’re going to bottle-feed your baby, these tips can get you started.

You may have heard that it’s best for babies to be breast-fed, at least for the first six months of life. But that’s not always possible. If you have chosen to bottle-feed, don’t feel guilty. Formula can meet all of your baby’s nutritional needs. The following information can help get you started.

What kind of formula should I use?

Talk to your doctor about the different types of formula available and what is best for your baby. There are several types to choose from:

  • Milk-based formula. This is the most common type of formula used. Although the base is cow’s milk, it is altered to make it easy for infants to digest. Many milk-based formulas are fortified with iron.
  • Soy-based formula. Some babies have milk allergies or are unable to digest lactose, which is found in milk-based formulas. When this happens, pediatricians often recommend a soy-based formula.
  • Specialized formulas. Babies who are premature or born with certain health conditions may require specialized formulas designed for their needs. Other babies may be constipated or gassy on regular formula and need a gentler version to ease those symptoms.

And there are more choices. You can buy formula that is:

  • Ready-to-use. This is the most expensive form, but it’s also the most convenient. It comes in sterilized, single-use bottles.
  • Ready-to-pour. This liquid formula comes in various sized cans and is ready to pour into sterilized bottles.
  • Concentrated. This type of formula is poured into the bottle with a certain exact amount of water. Follow the directions on the container.
  • Powdered. This is the least expensive type. Generally a scoopful of powder is added to the bottle for every two ounces of water. Follow the directions on the container exactly.

Never add more water than is recommended in the directions.

Leftover formula can be refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours.

What kind of bottle and nipple should I use?

Some parents prefer to use lightweight plastic bottles, while others prefer more-durable glass bottles. If you decide to use plastic, make sure the bottle is “BPA-free.” BPA is a chemical found in some plastics. There is concern that BPA may lead to serious health problems.

Nipples are made of rubber or silicone and should be replaced every few months. For younger babies, use “slow flow” nipples. As your baby grows, buy quicker flow nipples with larger openings.

How do I keep bottles and nipples germ-free?

You can sterilize baby bottles and nipples through one of these methods:

  • Run them through the dishwasher.
  • Put them in a pot of water on your stove and bring to a boil for five to 10 minutes.
  • Use a microwave sterilizer, sold at baby stores.

Or ask your baby’s doctor if it is OK to keep the nipples and bottles clean by washing them in hot, soapy water.

Lastly, always wash your hands well before preparing the bottles and feeding baby.

What’s the best way to warm up formula?

Most babies are content with room-temperature formula. If your baby prefers warmed-up formula, heat the bottle (with the formula already in it) by running it under warm water from the faucet. Test the temperature before feeding baby by placing a few drops on your inner arm.

Formula should not be heated on the stove in a pot of water or placed in the microwave. Both of those methods can produce formula hot enough to burn your baby’s mouth.

How often should baby eat?

Feed your baby whenever he is hungry. In time, he’ll fall into a pattern of eating every three to five hours. Most bottle-fed babies eat six to eight times per day.

Most babies start out taking just a few ounces of formula per feeding. When your baby begins to drain the bottle, add an extra ounce to each feeding.

How do I feed my baby?

Feeding time is usually an enjoyable experience for both Mom and baby. Here’s how to enhance your pleasant time together:

  • Find a quiet place.
  • Find a comfortable position and use pillows to support your back.
  • If your baby is fussing, try calming him down first. Trying to feed an irritable baby may give him a tummy-ache.
  • Use this time to cuddle and bond with your baby.
  • Stop and burp your baby after each two or three ounces she eats.
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