How to Bottle Feed Your Baby

Choosing a Bottle

Breast Milk pumped at work
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Before you choose a bottle you need to know a bit about your baby and how often you intend to use a bottle. For example, you might choose a different bottle for a baby who will only take an occasional bottle or if you intend to put in expressed breast milk (EBM) in the bottle. Assess your needs prior to choosing a bottle.

Questions to ask yourself before selecting a bottle:

  • How often will you use a bottle?
  • What will you be putting in the bottle?
  • Does my baby tend to swallow a lot of air when eating?
  • Does my baby have a tendency towards colic?
  • Do you prefer reusable bottles or disposable?
  • How will you be cleaning your bottles?
  • What size bottles do you need?
  • How many bottles will you need?

Temperature of the Bottle

Heating up a bottle
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Before you feed your baby you will need to have the bottle of breast milk or formula at the temperature your baby prefers. This can even be room temperature. It is important that you do not microwave bottles, no matter what is in them, as this will cause hot spots that can burn your baby, even though you may have tested the liquid.

You will need to use either a store bought bottle warmer for your car or home or use the old fashioned, but super effective water method. To use the water method simply take a large cup or bowl and run hot tap water into it. Place the bottle into the water and reduce the flow of water to a trickle so that the bottle is quickly brought to a comfortable temperature.

Before you feed the baby any fluid that has been warmed, check the fluid by placing some on your forearm. It is also important to note that not all babies need warm fluids. Your baby will let you know what temperature s/he likes.

Positioning Your Baby

Mom bottle feeding baby
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Hold the baby on your lap with their head in the crook of your arm. Hold your baby at a slightly upright position to eat. Be sure to switch sides, as you would with breastfeeding to provide them with adequate stimulation of both sides of their brain.

To stay comfortable, you may wish to use a pillow or two to help you hold your arm up. This will help prevent you from having a stiff neck or sore upper back while feeding your baby.

Giving the Bottle

Bottle feeding baby
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Now it's time to eat! As the baby turns to root and opens their mouth, insert the bottle nipple into the mouth. The nipple should be filled with fluid. A half filled nipple will cause baby to swallow too much air which can cause gas later. To end a feeding or remove the bottle, simply pull the bottle from baby's mouth. Be careful not to overfeed.

Be sure to follow any special directions given with the bottle you choose. Some bottles have special requirements like specific inserts. This can prevent injuries and make the experience safer for baby.

Propping the Bottle

Dad bottle feeding baby
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Never prop your baby's bottle. You should also never prop a bottle. Not even for a minute. This can cause the baby to choke. This is a very serious and life threatening thing to do. A baby is not always able to move the bottle and help control his or her airway, this is why choking is a risk, particularly if they are leaned back in their car seat.

Propping a bottle also deprives them of the physical contact they crave. Feeding your baby should be a pleasant sensation for both you and baby. It is not simply a matter for getting as much food in your baby as quickly as possible.

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