Everything You Need to Know About Bottle-Feeding

June 20, 2018

If you’re a new parent, the thought of bottle-feeding can seem daunting. But don’t despair, it’s easier than it looks. Here’s what you need to know to keep baby happy and well-fed.

Remember, bottle-feeding is bonding.

Let go of any guilt you feel over not breast-feeding. With bottle-feeding, you can still have the skin-to-skin contact—and those goo-goo-ga-ga sounds you coo at baby—that will bring the two of you closer.

Feed baby before the waterworks start.

Tears often mean she’s been hungry for a while, so be on the lookout for hunger cues before the crying starts. These include flailing arms and legs, or opening her mouth as if she’s searching for something.

Choose a quiet space.

Since a baby gets all his nutrients from milk, mealtime is vitally important. A light-on-the-noise feeding spot makes it easier for baby to concentrate on eating. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t give him a bottle at the mall or in a crowded waiting room. But at home, turn off the TV and don’t answer the phone.

Burp baby. A lot.

If she’s spitting up, it’s usually because she has swallowed too much air. For every 2 ounces of formula, burp her to help expel air and avoid spitting up. (This can also help with her gassiness, too.) Positions to try while patting her back: over-the-shoulder, tummy down or sitting on your lap.

Let baby stop feeding when full.

Your child knows when he’s had enough. If your baby stops feeding, don’t force him to eat more. If he resists the bottle, try burping to see if he’s gassy. If he still won’t eat, he’s had enough. A lot of childhood weight problems start early on because of overfeeding, so letting your baby decide when and how much he wants to eat is the best way to keep his weight in check from the beginning.

Measure carefully.

Mixing the wrong ratio of formula and water can have big nutrition and weight consequences. Follow the directions on the label exactly, and use fluoride-free water when possible (too much of the mineral can discolor teeth). Also prepare only what you need—mixed formula that sits around, even in the fridge, can be unsanitary. If baby wakes you up to eat, try keeping pre-measured portions of powder and water nearby so you can mix formula quickly and easily in the night.

Enforce this rule: no bottles in the crib.

Even if her teeth haven’t started growing in, putting baby to bed with formula or juice can lead to dental decay and other problems. Make feeding the first part of baby’s bedtime routine. If your child needs help falling asleep, give her a pacifier or lovey.

Don’t microwave.

If you give baby a cold or room-temperature bottle from the get-go, she may prefer that. But if you know she likes warm bottles, you can run one under warm tap water for a few minutes, place a bottle in a pan of hot water (away from stovetop) or try a bottle warmer. Don’t use the microwave; it might create hot spots that can burn baby’s mouth.

Consider being a combo mom.

Lots of moms breast-feed and bottle-feed, or pump breast milk for once-in-a-while use in a bottle. Just remember, your milk production will decrease when you use formula.

If Mom nurses, let Dad help.

Sharing feedings gives both of you the chance to bond with baby and also to have some alone time. If you’re breast-feeding, you may want to try pumping a few ounces so your partner or other caregivers can help. You’ll get a break, and they’ll enjoy the chance to feed your little one.

© Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.