Whether you’re switching from breast to bottle or starting your baby on a bottle from the start, knowing the tricks to successful feeding will ensure a satisfying experience for both you and your baby.
Bottle-feeding is much more of an exact science that breastfeeding and it establish a routine. It is also reassuring to know that today’s formula milk is produced to resemble breastmilk as closely as possible, so your baby will continue to receive good nutrition.
When feeding your baby, hold her close and talk soothingly to her. Bottle-feeding should no less of a bonding experience than breastfeeding.
Organisation is the key to bottle-feeding success. Aim to have a bottle ready soon as your baby cries for a feed and water used to mix formula must be boiled and cooled. So try to get into a routine of washing, sterilising and storing bottles as well as keeping a ready supply of boiled water so you are not caught unprepared when your baby is hungry and crying for a bottle.
What you need:
- Six to eight bottles with teats
- Steam, microwave or cold water steriliser
- Bottle brush
Making up a bottle
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as the ratio of powder to water is carefully calculated to give your baby optimum nutrition
- Pour the cooled, boiled water in the correct amount into a sterilised bottle
- Measure the formula powder with the scoop provided, levelling off with the back of a knife
- Add the formula to the water
- Place the top on the bottle and shake until all the formula has dissolved
- Cool the bottle quickly by running it under cold water for a few minutes or putting it towards the back of the fridge.
- Test several drops of milk on the back of your wrist to make sure the milk is warm but not too hot (if you can feel a slight sting on your wrist it’s too hot for your baby)
- Tilt the bottle so that milk fills the teat and your baby is not drawing in air as she sucks
- Tilt your baby in your arms; if she is lying flat she may find it difficult to swallow, or gag on the milk
- Wind her when she has had enough
How to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby
Babies that have been purely may not easily take to a bottle. How you introduce a bottle to your baby may mean the difference between success and failure.
Follow these guidelines:
- Let someone other than you introduce the bottle as it’s believed that you baby may smell your milk and may refuse to take a bottle from you if you’re holding her
- If your baby seems confused when holding her in the crook of the arm (because it’s associated with breastfeeding) let her lie on someone’s lap with her head resting on their knees
- Feed your baby for a few minutes on the breast to satisfy her initial hunger; hand her over and leave the room while she is offered the bottle
- Keep the teat in her mouth, even if she just chews on it. Once milk starts to come out she should start to suck
- If she is resisting, warm the teat slightly, as she will not be used to the coldness of the teat
- A little gripe water on the teat may encourage her to take it
- If she rejects the bottle-persevere it will get better
If your baby refuses to take a bottle check that the bottle’s teat is small enough to fit into your baby’s mouth comfortably. You may have to try a few different shapes and sizes before you find one that suits her. Successfully combining breast-and bottle-feeding can give you the freedom to explore the recently neglected areas of your life, while giving you the comfort that your baby’s nutritional needs are met.
‘If you want to continue to breastfeed after introducing a bottle, breastfeed her as often a possible and only use a bottle where necessary.’
Choosing the right formula can be confusing, so be guided by your midwife, nurse or paediatrician. If you ever want to change the formula you use, first get advice from the experts as changing can upset your baby’s delicate digestive system. Never feed a young baby cows milk, or milk products other than infant formula.
The technology used to manufacture formula has advanced significantly. While formula doesn’t adapt to your baby’s nutritional needs like breastmilk does, it contains a number of essential nutrients necessary to aid your baby’s growth and development. Some formulas contain the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, AA ans DHA, which are required for the development of your baby’s brain, nerves, heart and eyes. Long-chain fatty acids are essential fatty acids gleaned directly from vegetable, seed and nut oils. They are grouped into Omega-6 and Omega-3, which in turn create DHA. Research has shown that bottlefed babies, given formula supplemented with DHA to match optimal breastmilk levels, show similar advantages in intelligence scores as breastfeed babies.
There are also hypo-allergenic, anti-reflux and lactose-free formulas available, if your baby requires them.
Formulas are usually available in three stages, for birth to 6 months, 6 to 12 months and 12 months plus.
- Keep pre prepared bottles refrigerated and throw any milk away that’s older than 12 hours
- Throw away the unfinished milk, never offer the same bottle on two different occasions or reheat half-finished bottles
- Make sure you carefully wash and sterilise the bottles and teats after each feed to prevent bacteria from forming. Rinse and wah thee bottles and teats separately from your other dishes. Use a bottle brush or coarse salt to ensure all residue is cleaned away. Turn the teats inside out and rub with salt before rinsing and washing. Rinse again in clean water and then sterilise.
There are a number of different ways to sterilise. These include: boiling, sterisiling liquid or tablets added to cold water, steam sterilisers or microwave sterilisers. Make sure you read the directions carefully.
Keys to success:
To avoid your baby developing a preference for the bottle when moving from exclusive breastfeeding, breastfeed her as often as possible and only use a bottle where necessary.
- If your baby rejects the breast – crying when you bring her near the breast or pulling away with frustration because the milk is not flowing fast enough – cut out the bottle and breastfeed exclusively for a week or two if you’re able to
- If you are returning to work, start introducing the bottle a fair while before you do. It’s not always plain sailing and you may need a bit of time to get it right. Leaving it to the day before you return to work makes it even more stressful for you and your baby. Once back at work, breastfeed your baby in the mornings, evening and through the night if she is still demanding night feeds. To ensure that you have enough breastmilk for the early evening be careful not to express milk later than 2pm.
Combining breast and bottle
It is possible to successfully combine breast-and bottle-feeding can interfere with successful breastfeeding. This happens because your breast are designed to work on a supply and demand basis-the more your baby demands the more they will supply. By introducing partial bottle-feeding, the demand for breastmilk will decrease leading to a diminished supply. Secondly, because milk flow easier from the breast, your baby may decide to follow the path of least resistance and develop a preferences for drinking from a bottle.
The number one rule to successful combining is to make sure that your breastmilk supply is properly established. It isn’t a good idea to start expressing or introducing bottles to your breastfed baby before about 6-8 weeks. This is usually done to prevent nipple confusion, as breast-and bottlefeeding require completely different sucking techniques.
If you’re combination feeding, you may wish to breastfeed in the morning and evenings and offer expressed milk during the day (especially if you have to go back to work).
When introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby, ask your partner, a caregiver or a friend to give your baby the first bottle. babies are extremely sensitive to the smell of breastmilk. If she’s able to smell your milk, she may well refuse to take the bottle. If you are worried about nipple confusion, offer expressed milk in a cup with spout from about 3 months as this will help prevent it.