Bottle Feeding

Just as breastfeeding does not make you a good mother, bottlefeeding does not make you a bad one.

If you choose not to breastfeed, or you cannot breastfeed, or if you decide to discontinue breastfeeding within the first twelve months, this will not make you a negligent mother. Just as breastfeeding does not make you a good mother, bottlefeeding does not make you a bad one.

If you are bottlefeeding, you must decide which formula is best for your baby. Often your paediatrician, midwife or doctor may advise you. If either you or your partner have a history of milk allergies, be sure to mention this to your doctor. Many children do have an intolerance or allergy to lactose, the protein in milk from a dairy source. This factor will influence the type of formula your paediatrician, midwife or doctor recommends. Soya-based formulas are available as an alternative to dairy.

Formulas today have properties closely matched to those of breast milk, including the delicate balance and quantities of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Cow’s milk and baby formula are not the same. Formula is designed for a baby’s digestive system and cow’s milk is not. Cow’s milk is not suitable for children less than one year old. For more specific information regarding the different manufacturers of formula, check with your paediatrician, doctor or midwife.    

For bottle feeding you will need:

  • between two and six bottles
  • teats with the right flow-rate for your baby’s age
  • bottle caps
  • bottle/teat brush
  • sterilising equipment
  • insulated cool bag for outings

Preparing a bottle

Boil water and allow to cool for 45 minutes.

Wash your hands then following the instructions on your chosen formula, measure out the correct amount using a sterilised knife to level the scoops and tip into a sterilised bottle. Add the cooled water to the required level, fit together the teat, locking ring and cap, and screw onto the bottle, careful not to over-tighten. A little air is needed to encourage milk flow as your baby suckles. The bottle can be used immediately or stored for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Hygiene is most important when bottlefeeding as bacteria thrive in warm conditions. Your baby’s immune system is still undeveloped and vulnerable. After every feed, you will need to wash and sterilise every little bit of equipment. Firstly, wash the equipment in hot soapy water, using a bottlebrush to get rid of any residue, paying particular attention to the teat holes. Then rinse the equipment well to get rid of any detergent residue. Now you can sterilise. This can be done one of three ways.

  • You can boil it for 10 minutes then allow it to cool before using it
  • Immerse it for an hour in a plastic-covered container with sterilising fluid (always read all instructions)
  • Use a steam steriliser, either one that is self-heating or one that can be used in a microwave

When you are feeding by bottle, take time to sit and hold your baby. This prevents your child becoming too attached to the bottle and you remain in control of the feeding.

Avoid bottle-feeding your baby when it is lying completely flat as swallowing may allow fluid to enter the middle ear and cause ear infections.

For this same reason, do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. Furthermore, oral hygiene is compromised when a child falls asleep with the bottle in its mouth. Sugar in the formula collects in the baby’s mouth and coats the teeth which can cause tooth decay.

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