bottle-feeding for beginners
Feeding

Bottle feeding for beginners

If you’re a first-time mum, it helps if you are prepared by learning all you need to know about bottle feeding for beginners before your baby arrives.

If you have decided to bottle feed your baby, you will need to make sure you know how to prepare the bottle feeds and sterilise all the necessary equipment. We outline all the bottle feeding basics you need to know.

How to clean bottles

1. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Dry using a clean towel.

2. Wash all feeding equipment well in hot, soapy water. Use a clean bottle and teat brush to scrub the inside and outside of bottles and teats to make sure you remove any leftover milk from the hard-to-reach places.

3. Rinse well in clean, running water.

How to sterilise bottles

1. Steam
Steam is the best way to sterilise feeding equipment. You can purchase plug in sterilisers or microwave sterilisers. Make sure that you always follow the instructions.

2. Boiling water
Fill a large saucepan with tap water and completely submerge all the equipment. Make sure there no trapped air bubbles. Cover the saucepan, bring to the boil and boil for at least three minutes. Make sure that the feeding equipment is fully covered with boiling water at all times. Keep the saucepan covered until you need to use the equipment.

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

combination feeding

Where to store bottles and equipment?

Wash and dry your hands and clean all work surfaces before handling sterilised equipment. Ideally, you should use sterilised forceps for handling sterilised equipment so that it does not become dirty again. Put together the feeding bottles if you remove them from the steriliser before you need them. This prevents the inside of the bottle and the inside and outside of the teat becoming dirty again. If you put them together correctly, the bottles will remain safe to use for 24 hours if you do not open them.

Can I store bottle feeds to use later?

It is safest to prepare a fresh feed each time you need one, and to give it to your baby straight away. This is because warm milk provides ideal conditions for bacteria to grow – especially at room temperature. If you need to prepare feeds in advance to use later, make up individual bottles, cool them quickly and place in the back of the fridge (5°C or below). Throw away any feed in the fridge that you have not used within 24 hours.

How do I warm up refrigerated bottle feeds?

• Remove the bottle of feed 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.

• Warm it for no 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.

How much formula should my baby take?

If you are bottle feeding, let your baby decide how much he or she wants unless your baby is sick. Do not try to make your baby finish a bottle if he or she does not want to. Never re-use leftover milk once your baby finishes feeding. Throw it away. Never use a microwave to re-warm feeds. Microwaves heat unevenly and may cause ‘hot spots’ that could scald your baby’s mouth. This guide below was created according to the regulations set by  www.hse.ie.

bottle-feeding for beginners

Teats

Bottle teats come in various ‘flow’ sizes. Newborns usually begin with a slow flow until they get used to feeding, then you switch to a medium flow. Use a fast-flow teat if your baby can suck at the pace required by them and won’t be too overwhelmed by the speed of the milk. You will know if the flow is too fast for your baby if they are choking, spluttering and leaking milk from the mouth.

Tips for bottle-feeding when out and about

Ready-to-feed formula that comes in sealed cartons and plastic bottles are handy for decanting into a sterilised feeding bottle when you’re out and about. Do not carry around made-up bottles of formula as this encourages bacteria. Use small sterilisable containers to store powdered formula in when you’re out and about.

Longer journeys

If the journey will be longer than two hours, or if you have no way of keeping the feeds cold, it is not safe to bring made-up bottles. According to the HSE, the safest option is to bring the powder with you and prepare a feed as normal using water that is hotter than 70°C. Cool it quickly and feed your baby right away.

If you will not be able to boil water when you are out, you could fill a thermos flask with boiling water to bring with you. If you fill the flask and seal it, the water will stay above 70°C for several hours. You can use it to make up a feed when you need to. Wash flasks well and rinse with boiling water before you fill them with the boiling water that will be used to make up the feed.

bottle-feeding for beginners

Another very safe option is to use cartons of liquid formula. You can buy these in chemists and supermarkets. You do not need to keep them in a fridge or heat them up before feeding your baby. www.hse.ie

Bottle feeding essentials

What do I need to make up formula feeds?

✔ A bottle brush and tongs to help you grip the equipment.

✔ Fresh water (bottled water may contain salt).

✔ The formula milk of your choice.

✔ A chemical, steam or microwave kit for sterilising bottles.

✔ At least six bottles, lids, discs and teats.

How do I correctly bottle feed my baby?

Sit down in a comfortable seat with your baby. Put your baby on your lap so that she’s sitting fairly upright, with her head supported comfortable. Make sure that you have eye contact with her and enjoy the chance to bond.

Hold the bottle firmly and tip it taking care that your baby isn’t flooded with milk as she feeds. Gently stroke the teat on her baby’s cheek or lips and she should turn towards it. When her mouth is wide open and the tongue is down, help your baby to draw the teat into her mouth.

Tilt the bottle slightly as your baby drinks so that she is taking in milk and not air. Help your baby to become comfortable if she appears to be in an uncomfortable position. Make sure to wind your baby after the feed. Put her over her shoulder and gently rub or pat her back and she may burp and bring up a little bit of milk. It’s a good idea to protect your clothes with a muslin cloth.

Never leave your baby alone with a bottle.

More like this:

Combining breast and bottle feeding
Bottle feeding essentials
6 tips to get baby drink from a bottle

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.