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Bottle feeding babies
Bottle feeding babies

Getting formula or milk to flow when bottle-feeding

To test the flow of the formula or breastmilk, hold the bottle upside down when it’s filled with liquid at room temperature. The liquid should drip steadily but not pour out.

If you have to shake the bottle vigorously to see the drip, the flow is too slow. Your baby might go to sleep before drinking what they need.

Giving baby the bottle

Make yourself comfortable and cuddle your baby close to you, holding baby gently but firmly. It’s better for your baby to be on a slight incline so any air bubbles rise to the top, making burping easier.

Put the teat against your baby’s lips. Your baby will open their mouth and start to suck. Keep the neck of the bottle at an angle so it’s filled with formula or milk.

When your baby stops sucking strongly or when about half of the formula or breastmilk has gone, gently remove the bottle and see whether baby wants to burp. Once you’ve tried burping your baby, you can offer the bottle again.

It’s a good idea to change the direction your baby is facing for part of the feed or at different feeds. This helps to stimulate your baby’s senses equally.

When baby doesn’t finish the bottle or goes to sleep while feeding

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t finish the bottle. Babies are very good at judging how much they need, so you can let your baby decide when they’ve had enough infant formula or breastmilk.

If your baby goes to sleep during a feed, put baby over your shoulder, rub their back, and stroke their head, legs and tummy. This can help to wake your baby up. A nappy change is a good way to wake your baby up if that doesn’t work.

Always throw away any leftover infant formula or breastmilk after one hour. Storing half-empty bottles for future use is risky because they get contaminated quickly once they’ve been sucked on.

How much do bottle-feeding babies drink?

Newborn babies commonly have 6-8 feeds every 24 hours, but there’s no set amount of food or number of feeds your baby should have. Different babies drink different amounts of formula or breastmilk. Some might have some feeds close together and others further apart.

Just feed your baby whenever baby is hungry. You’ ll see baby cues that say ‘I’m hungry’ – for example, your baby will make sucking noises or start turning towards the breast or bottle. Your baby will also let you know when they’ve had enough by stopping sucking or turning their head away.

Dangers of bottle-feeding in bed

If your baby gets used to falling asleep with a bottle in bed, baby might depend on it to get to sleep. This can make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep or settle for sleep independently.

 

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