bottle-feeding for beginners

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

bottle-feeding for beginners


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.

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 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 My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….