If you have decided to bottle feed your baby you may be confused about where to start and how to ensure your baby receives all the nutrients they need.
Some mums decide to exclusively bottle feed while others combine it with breastfeeding. And all family members can help giving you the chance to rest and get some time to yourself.
What you will need to bottle feed
There are various brands of formula in the shops these days and you can choose one yourself or get advice from your midwife.
If you decide to bottle feed, there is some equipment that you will need to buy before your baby arrives.
You will need:
- bottles with several teats close to your breast/nipple shape (teats come in all shapes and sizes so get advice on what is best for your baby’s age and milk they are on)
- sterilising equipment with tablets/liquids for either hot or cold sterilising
- a cleaning brush
- formula in the form of powdered or ready-to-use cartons. It is important that you follow the instructions and always throw away old, unused milk
- a breast pump if you decide to express your own milk
- bibs, muslins and a kettle will also be needed
Bonding with your baby
Feeding time gives you and your baby a chance to relax, bond and get to know each other.
From the moment that they are born, children need love and attention from the people around them to promote healthy brain development. These positive, nurturing interactions are known as 'serve and return'.
In other words, when an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, connections are built in a child's brain that support the development of communication and social skills.
Never leave your baby alone during feeding and your baby should always be comfortable, held at angle in your arms and close to you. Never try to feed your baby more milk then they need. Your midwife or health visitor can give you guidelines on a baby's recommended fluid intake.
The teat of your baby’s bottle should be full with no air in it when feeding them. Winding your baby after every feed is very important and this should be done with your baby sitting upright with their head supported.
If your baby is vomiting during or after feeds, has constipation or seems uncomfortable from wind, please get advice from your midwife or health visitor.
It's also important to get your baby weighed regularly to check that they are gaining enough weight.
When to stop using bottles
Research shows babies can get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula until they are around six months old. Waiting till then gives their digestive system time to develop fully so that it can cope with solid foods.
It's recommended that children stop using bottles when they are aged one and a sippy cup for their milk or water should be introduced from six months during weaning.
Prolonged bottle use can cause problems with your baby’s health as milk contains sugars which stay on your baby’s teeth and they will start to use the teat for chewing and comfort whilst teething.
If you have any concerns about your baby or need advice on feeding, speak to your midwife or your health visitor. The details for these can be found in your baby’s red book or by visiting your nearest family centre.
Come and talk to one of our local Family Support workers to see how we can help. Pop into one of our family centres, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 8753 6070.
Some mothers can feel low and depressed after having a baby and if you feel like this speak to your GP, midwife, health visitor or come and talk to us.