Whether you’re training baby to bottle-feed with breastmilk, getting her ready for day care or feeding her formula, you probably have questions about bottle-feeding your newborn.
Our practical tips give your baby a healthy start and make bottle-feeding easier!
What to feed your baby:
The only thing that belongs in your baby’s bottle is breastmilk or formula. Anything else (cereal, juice, other drinks) is not necessary.
How you bottle-feed your baby is as important as what’s in the bottle:
- Warm bottles in a bowl of hot water or in a bottle warmer. Never use a microwave; it can create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth. Check the temperature of the milk by first swirling it and then squeezing a little inside your wrist.
- Always hold your baby while feeding him. It helps you bond and learn to read your baby’s feeding cues.
- Keep baby’s head straight to help him swallow.
- Hold baby upright while keeping air out of the nipple.
- Never prop the bottle. It can make him choke and raises the risk of ear infections.
- Take breaks to burp baby every 2 to 3 ounces. This helps slow down a fast eater so he has time to recognize he’s getting full.
- Pay attention to baby’s feeding cues. Never force him to finish the bottle if he’s showing signs of fullness, like turning away from the nipple, playing or acting disinterested.
- If he fusses, try burping him. If he keeps fussing once you start feeding again, he’s probably full.
- Don’t let baby fall asleep sucking on a bottle. Milk pooled in his mouth can cause future tooth decay. If he still tries to fall asleep, end the feeding, wipe the milk off his gums and let him use a pacifier if he needs to suck to fall back to sleep.
If you’re using a bottle to feed baby breastmilk, try these tips:
- Try to wait to introduce the bottle until breastfeeding is well established, usually around 1 month old.
- If you are going back to work or school, begin offering a bottle about 2 weeks ahead of time.
- Have Dad or another caregiver offer the bottle, at least at first. Baby may be more willing to take it from someone he knows can’t breastfeed him.
- Warm up refrigerated breastmilk to approximately the same temperature as your skin.
- Start with just an ounce, so you don’t waste milk if baby refuses. Remember, this is new, so don’t worry if he doesn’t catch on right away. You can also try offering the first few bottles after he has breastfed a bit (it’s hard to learn a new skill when you are hungry!). If he continues to refuse, consider trying a different nipple. It may take multiple attempts (and nipples) before your baby will accept the bottle.
- Use slow-flow nipples and hold baby as upright as possible without letting air enter the nipple. These actions help to slow baby down and keep air out of his tummy. They also help to ensure he doesn’t develop a preference for bottles that release milk more easily than the breast.
- Don’t force the bottle nipple into baby’s mouth. Instead, stroke your baby’s upper lip to get him to open wide (to mimic breastfeeding).
- Make sure the bottle nipple is deep in your baby’s mouth (a longer nipple may work better). His lips should flange (like a fish) around the base of the nipple (not just the tip or with lips tucked in), just like they do on the breast.
- Avoid overfeeding by not allowing your baby to drink all of the contents quickly. If he is eating fast, stop the feeding, burp him and then begin again. If he doesn’t show any interest when you offer the bottle again after burping, don’t force him to finish the contents, as he’s probably trying to tell you he’s full.
- Switch your baby from one arm to the other halfway through the bottle, just as you would switch breasts. This helps mimic breastfeeding and slows baby down.