How to Bottle Feed a Baby Step-by-Step
Step by step guide on how to bottle feed a baby
It is quite an interesting and challenging phase when you introduce bottles to your baby. You might have a lot of questions in your mind when you start to bottle-feed your baby. You may get a lot of advice from your parents or experienced mothers, but sometimes too much information is also of no help to you.
Here, we have listed some simple steps that you have to follow when it comes to bottle-feeding your baby. These will answer your questions pertaining to how to feed, how to position your baby while feeding, how to ensure your baby has had his full after every feed, etc.
Contents and quantity of feed
You can feed your pumped milk or formula feed in a bottle. The quantity of every feed would vary depending on the age of the infant. While it is recommended that you don’t introduce bottles to infants less than 4 months old, it might become necessary for some mothers to bottle-feed their babies at an early stage itself.
How much do newborns drink when they are bottle-fed? Understanding this will help you prepare the bottle for your kid appropriately. As a general rule, newborns drink around 1 or 2 ounces of milk every 2 to 3 hours. The quantity will increase and the frequency of feeding will decrease as babies grow. At about 5 or 6 months, babies will need 600ml of milk or formula in one day. They may also begin to bottle feed once every 5 hours or so, during this stage.
Steps involved in bottle-feeding a baby
The main process of bottle feeding a baby can be explained in three subsections- preparing the bottle, preparing the formula and feeding the baby. Let’s look at the steps in each of these processes in the following sections:
Getting the bottle ready
- You have to ensure the bottle and all the utensils that are used for preparing the formula are thoroughly cleaned before use. After cleaning, sterilize the bottle well in boiling water for about 10 minutes, before you use it for preparing the formula.
- Different bottles come with different instructions pertaining to usage, cleaning, and maintenance. Ensure you follow the manual properly so that you can remove all the parts of the bottle when you are cleaning before and after use.
Getting the formula ready
- Always read the instruction label of the formula very well to know the quantities of the powder and water you should be mixing to prepare it. When you make the solution too watery, your baby may not get the required nutrients per feed. If you make the solution too thick, your baby may not be able to digest the same, leading to issues such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and more.
- Now boil the water for a minute or so before you add the formula powder. Mix well and feed this immediately to your baby. If you want to feed at a later stage, you should prepare the formula and store it in the refrigerator. When the prepared formula is lying unused for more than one hour at room temperature, you shouldn’t give it to your baby. Also, the unused formula in the refrigerator should be thrown away if it has been lying there for more than 24 hours.
- When you want to feed the refrigerated formula to your baby, you should always reheat it, so that it is slightly warm. Boil a pan of water on low heat and keep the prepared formula bottle inside this pan. Switch off after a minute. Never use microwave ovens to reheat formula feeds, as the heating wouldn’t be uniform in these cases.
Feeding the baby
- Place your baby in a comfortable position before you feed him the bottle. You can hold him close to your body in a cradle position or hold him in a semi-upright position by balancing his head carefully. You can also feed your baby when he is sitting upright on your lap. Never make the mistake of bottle feeding him when he is lying down. This can result in the flow of formula into the ears of the baby, causing ear infections.
- Test the warmth of the formula feed by squeezing a drop on your wrist. This will let you know if your baby would be comfortable when he tastes the formula.
- Tilt the bottle slightly to ease the flow of milk from the nipple to his mouth. This will also prevent him from drawing more air inside when he sucks. Babies that suck in a lot of air are prone to digestive and gastric problems.
- Your baby will move his mouth away from the nipple when he is full. Till about 4 to 6 months old, he may drink a maximum of 2 ounces of formula per feed. Don’t force him to empty the bottle, as this may cause him to vomit. When your baby voluntarily pulls the bottle away from his mouth and seems to be very happy doing that, he has had his full.
- Burping is a very important process that you have to follow after every bottle feeding session. When you burp your baby properly, it will protect him from indigestion issues. The most common burping position is when you drape your baby across your shoulder and rub his back gently until he burps. You can also make him sit upright on your lap, while you pat his back firmly. Infants can be made to lie stomach down on your lap, while you gently run your hand on their backs until you hear them burp.
Choosing the right bottle for your baby
Gone are the days when feeding bottles used to be simple with a standard silicone nipple. Today, bottles are of many types with new technologies to help babies with various special needs. So, even if you know all the steps of bottle feeding, you may experience very little success if you haven’t chosen the right equipment. Here are some important points you have to keep in mind when choosing feeding bottles for your baby:
- If your baby is prone to gastric issues, it means he sucks in a lot of air when he is bottle feeding. In this case, you need to choose a bottle that comes with a special filtration system to block out the air particles and let only the milk to flow through.
- Babies who have been exclusively breastfed react well to bottles that have nipples that are designed in the same color and feel of the human nipple. They feel like they are latching on to their mothers’ breasts when they drink from these bottles.
- It is highly recommended that you buy bottles that come with broad necks. These not only help in smooth milk flow into the baby’s mouth, but they are also easy to clean thoroughly.
- Though they are costly, you should always invest in glass bottles, because they don’t have the chemicals that are found in plastic bottles. High-quality silicon covers are available to protect these bottles from damages.
- In the initial stages of breastfeeding, it is better to use latex nipples along with your bottles, because these resemble the human breasts. Once your baby has got a hold of bottle-feeding, you can buy the durable and reusable silicone nipples.
- When your baby is teething, you could buy orthodontic nipples for the bootles, because they are flat and don’t hurt your baby’s mouth. Choose the right size of nipple so that the milk flow is neither too slow nor too quick for your baby. You could observe his intake when he is bottle feeding to understand if he is comfortable with the flow and temperature of the bottle feed.
Common mistakes you need to avoid when you are bottle-feeding your baby
Many mothers make some mistakes in the bottle feeding process, which leads to several problems such as baby not getting enough, baby swallowing air, baby feeling sick after drinking the feed, etc. Here are the most common mistakes that you should stay away from when you are bottle-feeding your baby:
- Never stick to a specific schedule while bottle feeding. A baby may not drink the same quantity of feed at the same time every day. On some days he may drink more than 2 ounces and on some days, he may drink less than 1 ounce per feed. So, you need to be flexible and understand your baby’s schedule to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding him.
- You should always sterilize the bottles before and after every use to kill all the germs in the bottle. If you don’t do that, your baby may fall sick after drinking from a contaminated bottle.
- It is mandatory to burp the baby after every feed. This will prevent the baby from swallowing gas. When you don’t do this, he feels comfortable in his tummy and it will affect his further feeding routines.
- Never mix your breast milk with the formula feed, as this can alter the composition, making it difficult to digest for your baby. If you want to feed your milk to your baby, you can combine the formula feeds and breastfeeding in exclusive sessions, for best results.