Successful bottle-feeding


What you need:

  • 6 to 8 bottles with teats
  • Steam, microwave or cold water steriliser
  • Bottle brush

How to bottle-feed a baby:

Organisation is the key to bottle-feeding success. The caregiver should aim to have a bottle ready as soon as your baby cries for a feed. So they should try to get into a routine of washing, sterilising and storing bottles so they are not caught unprepared when your baby is hungry and crying for milk.

  • Wash your hands well with soap before touching the storage bags or bottles.
  • Take the breastmilk from the fridge and warm up by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water. Swirl it around. If frozen, thaw the milk by placing in the fridge a few hours before needed. Never use a microwave to heat up the milk as it kills off precious nutrients, and can also create hot pockets. 
  • Test several drops of milk on the inside of your wrist to make sure the milk is lukewarm but not too hot (if you can feel a slight sting on your wrist it’s too hot for your baby). 
  • Lay your baby in the cradle of your arm in a semi-upright position and let baby latch on. If she is lying flat she may find it difficult to swallow, or she could gag on the milk.
  • As she sucks, keep the bottle tilted so that the teat fills with milk, and your baby is not drawing in air as she sucks.
  • After your baby has been sucking for a while, the teat may go flat. Pull on the bottle slightly to let the teat fill up again. If she fusses the teat may be dripping too slowly or too fast
  • Burp baby halfway through the feed or if she lets go of the teat and fusses, as well as at the end of a feed. Bring up wind by holding baby against your shoulder or sitting upright on your lap with your hand under chin, and gently rubbing or patting her back for a couple of minutes.

Choose a good bottle and teat:

Choose a good teat and bottle, one that simulates breastfeeding as closely as possible. Babies drink from the breast using a wave-like (peristaltic) motion of the tongue. Look for a teat that supports this natural sucking motion, and most resembles your nipple and areola with the same action and softness

Latex vs. silicone teats

Some babies prefer latex (brown teats) rather than silicone (see-through) teats as they feel more like skin and less like plastic. If you are using a silicone teat make sure that it is soft and stretchable.

Wide-necked vs. narrow-necked bottles

The teats on wide-necked bottles have a more natural feel over a baby’s lips and ensure a better fit in the mouth than the older narrow-necked teats. If you can hear loud sucking noises while your baby is drinking, change the make of the teat to get a better fit in the mouth.

Flow rate of the teat

The strength with which your baby sucks will determine theflow rate of the teat she will be comfortable with. Start with a medium teat and change to a small hole if your baby is gulping. You may need to try various teats before you find one that suits your baby.

Check that the flow of milk is coming out at a steady 2 to 3 drops per second. You may have to try different teats before your baby is happy. If the teat collapses, you may have screwed the ring on too tightly. Loosening it will help.

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