Bottle-Feeding Babies: Giving The Bottle
If your baby can’t always feed directly from your breast, you might choose to bottle-feed with expressed breastmilk. Or you might need to feed your baby infant formula, which is the only safe alternative to breastmilk.
Getting Formula or Milk to Flow When Bottle-Feeding
To test the flow of the formula or breastmilk, hold the bottle upside down when it’s filled with liquid at room temperature. The liquid should drip steadily but not pour out.
If you have to shake the bottle vigorously to see the drip, the flow is too slow. Your baby might go to sleep before drinking what they need.
A little leakage at the corners of your baby’s mouth while feeding is nothing to worry about. This will stop as your baby gets older.
If you have trouble finding the perfect teat, go for a faster teat rather than a slow one. It’s normal to try a few different teats before you find one that suits you and your baby.
Giving Baby The Bottle
Make yourself comfortable and cuddle your baby close to you, holding baby gently but firmly. It’s better for your baby to be on a slight incline so any air bubbles rise to the top, making burping easier.
Put the teat against your baby’s lips. Your baby will open their mouth and start to suck. Keep the neck of the bottle at an angle so it’s filled with formula or milk.
When your baby stops sucking strongly or when about half of the formula or breastmilk has gone, gently remove the bottle and see whether baby wants to burp. Once you’ve tried burping your baby, you can offer the bottle again.
It’s a good idea to change the direction your baby is facing for part of the feed or at different feeds. This helps to stimulate your baby’s senses equally.
Babies who are normally breastfed might find it hard to pace themselves when bottle-feeding. This is because they’re used to controlling the flow of breastmilk. Sometimes these babies can end up drinking too much too quickly.
To help make bottle-feeding more like breastfeeding, you can try paced feeding. This involves holding your baby in an upright position and letting baby rest every few minutes.
When Baby Doesn’t Finish the Bottle Or Goes to Sleep While Feeding
Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t finish the bottle. Babies are very good at judging how much they need, so you can let your baby decide when they’ve had enough infant formula or breastmilk.
If your baby goes to sleep during a feed, put baby over your shoulder, rub their back, and stroke their head, legs and tummy. This can help to wake your baby up. A nappy change is a good way to wake your baby up if that doesn’t work.
Wait until your baby is properly awake before offering the rest of the formula or breastmilk.
Always throw away any leftover infant formula or breastmilk after one hour. Storing half-empty bottles for future use is risky because they get contaminated quickly once they’ve been sucked on.