Bottle-feeding essentials

If you decide to bottle-feed, there are lots of practical considerations to factor in, such as how to prepare bottles safely and the important precautions to take.

In cases where breastfeeding is not possible, bottle-feeding using either expressed breast milk or infant formula milk can be a useful option. Before deciding to bottle-feed your baby, it is important to discuss it with your GP or midwife. Bottle-feeding babies takes a bit of practice. But once you know how to bottle-feed your baby, it’ll be a warm and comfortable experience for both of you. For bottle-feeding babies, you will need a few essentials: clean water and the right equipment – bottles, teats, rings and caps. You need something to sterilise them to keep them clean. You will also need to know how to make up infant formula properly.

Bottle-feeding essentials

To feed your baby formula milk, you need:

  • a clean work surface
  • facilities to wash your hands and equipment
  • a supply of bottles and teats
  • a bottle brush and a small teat brush
  • sterilising equipment and tongs
  • suitable water and a way to boil it
  • formula powder



You can buy plug-in sterilisers or microwave sterilisers. Always follow the instructions. Boiling water Fill a large saucepan with tap water and make sure all equipment is completely covered by the liquid. Make sure there are no trapped air bubbles. Cover the saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil for at least three minutes. Make sure the feeding equipment is fully covered with boiling water at all times. Keep the saucepan covered until you need to use the equipment.

Chemical steriliser

Make up a batch of sterilising liquid following the instructions. Make sure all equipment is completely covered by the sterilising liquid and that there are no trapped air bubbles. Leave the equipment covered for the length of time stated on the instructions.

Storing sterilised bottles

If you are not making up feeds, you will need to put the sterilised bottles together immediately to keep the teat and inside of the bottle sterile. Even washed hands can have bacteria on them, do not touch the bottle neck, the inside of the collar, the inside or outside of the teat or the inside of the cap with your hands. If you need to make bottles of sterile water for travelling, you can pour the correct amount of freshly boiled water into the bottle before putting the sterile collar, teat and lid on.

1. Make sure your hands and the work surface are clean.

2. Touching only the outside of the collar, place it over the teat and use sterile tongs to pull the teat through the collar.

3. Screw the collar onto the bottle and tighten fully.

4. Place the cap over the bottle, being sure not to touch the inside of the cap when doing this.

5. Store the bottles in a clean place. If put together correctly the empty bottles and bottles with sterile water will be safe for 24 hours. If not used within 24 hours, sterilise again. Once you open a bottle to add water or powder it is not sterile.

Preparing bottle feeds

1. Empty your kettle and fill it with one litre of cold tap water and boil. Or boil one litre of water in a clean pan.

2. Leave the boiled water to cool in the kettle or pan. Cool it for 30 minutes, but no longer. This will make sure that the water is not too hot, but also that it is no less than 70°C. At this temperature it is hot enough to kill harmful bacteria that may be in the formula powder and cool enough not to damage a lot of the nutrients in the formula.

3. Clean the work surface well. Wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry them on a clean towel.

4. Read the instructions on the formula’s label carefully to find out how much water and powder you need.

5. Pour the correct amount of water into a sterilised bottle. Water that is 70°C is still hot enough to scald, so be careful.

6. Add the exact amount of formula to the boiled water using the clean scoop provided. Reseal the packaging to protect it from germs and moisture. Adding too much or too little formula could make your baby sick.

7. Screw the bottle lid tightly and shake well to mix the contents.

8. To cool the feed quickly, hold the bottle under cold running water or place it in a large bowl of cold water. Make sure that the cold water does not reach above the neck of the bottle.

9. To check the feed is not too hot, shake the bottle and place a drop of liquid on the inside of the wrist – it should feel lukewarm, not hot. Feed your baby.

10. Throw away any feed that your baby has not taken within two hours. If your baby is a slow feeder use a fresh feed after two hours.


Storing made-up bottles

It is safest to prepare a fresh feed each time you need one, and to give it to your baby as soon as it has cooled to the right temperature. This is because warm milk provides ideal conditions for bacteria to grow – especially at room temperature.

To safely store made-up bottles:

  • make up bottles following steps 1 to 8;
  • place cooled bottles in the back of the fridge;
  • make sure the temperature of the fridge is 5°C or less; and
  • throw away any feed not used within 24 hours.

How do I warm up refrigerated bottle feeds?

  • Remove the bottle from the fridge just before you need it.
  • To warm it, place it in a bowl of warm water, making sure the level of the water is below the neck of the bottle. You can also use a bottle-warmer.
  • Do not warm it for more than 15 minutes.
  • Check the temperature of the milk by dripping a little onto the inside of your wrist. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.
  • Throw away any feed that your baby has not taken within two hours. Never re-warm feeds.

Feeding your baby

  • Make sure you and your baby are well supported and comfortable during feeds.
  • Make sure the milk is at the correct temperature.
  • Help your baby to avoid swallowing air while feeding.
  • If necessary, wind your baby to help get rid of swallowed air.
  • Do not leave your baby alone with the bottle.
  • Throw away any milk not used within two hours from when you start to feed your baby.

Other drinks

  • Give your baby breast milk or formula milk as their main drink until they are at least one year old.
  • Young babies generally do not need extra drinks.
  • Cooled boiled water is the most suitable drink if your baby does need extra drinks between feeds.
  • From about six months, gradually introduce a cup or beaker for drinks. Aim to replace all bottles with a cup or beaker by the time your baby is about one year old.

Out and about

If you will not be able to boil fresh water, bring the powder and sterile bottles of water with you. Make up sterile bottles of water at home. When you are out and need to feed your baby

1. Warm the bottle of water to feeding temperature by standing it in a bottle-warmer or a bowl of warm water for no longer than 15 minutes.

2. Add the exact amount of powder to the bottle.

3. Put the lid back on the bottle tightly, and shake well to mix the contents.

4. Test the temperature of the milk by dripping a little onto the inside of your wrist. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

5. Use the feed right away, and throw away any feed that has not been taken within two hours. If your baby is a slow feeder, make up a fresh feed after two hours.

How much?

If you have any concerns about how much milk your baby is having or how often they are feeding, speak to your public health nurse or doctor. Your baby will develop their own pattern of feeding, which can vary a little from day to day. Babies generally feed according to their appetite. It is good to allow your baby to recognise their own hunger cues and feeling of fullness.

Do not force your baby to take more than they want or to finish the amount prepared. Babies tend to gradually increase the amount they drink at each feed. Once you start introducing food, the amount of milk they drink will reduce gradually.

More like this:

Tips to get baby drink from a bottle
Switching from breast to bottle
Weaning babies onto solid foods


Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.



Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.