Feeding your baby bottles of formula milk as an alternative to breast milk, can provide all the nutrition the baby will need until he/she is 4 months old. Bottle feeding requires some planning and preparation each day so that feeds are ready for your baby when he/she needs them.Your Public Health Nurse or GP will be happy to talk with you about feeding, it will also be discussed at the ante-natal classes before your baby is born.
Before you commence bottle feeding you might want to think about the following:
This might depend on the formula provided in the maternity hospital or one that your friends or family have previously used. There are several brands to choose from so do talk to the midwives, your public health nurse or GP if you are at all confused. Normally formula milk is in powder form usually in a tin. the powder is then mixed with boiled water.There are also ready prepared liquid feeds in cartons. A large tin can be much more economical than smaller cartons of individual feeds. Small cartons can be useful if you are out and about.
Choosing the appropriate type of formula is very important. Most brands have a variety e.g formula for newborn to 6 months, formula for hungrier babies, follow on milk for older babies etc. Start with the formula for newborn to 6 months. Unless your baby shows signs of being very unsettled or has regular upset tummies after a feed, do not change the formula type. If you think the formula does not agree with your baby, talk with your Public Health Nurse or GP before you make any change.
Sterilising the bottles
All feeding equipment used by your baby must be sterilised before each use. Sterilising is the killing of germs and bacteria that naturally produce on things like bottles and teats, you can't see them but they can make your baby ill. See the Hygiene section for information on how to sterilise the bottles, teats, soothers etc that your baby uses each day
How to prepare a bottle feed
- Boil fresh water from the tap in a kettle or covered saucepan.
- When boiled, allow to cool but for no longer than 30 minutes.
- Clean your work surfaces and wash your hands.
- Read the instructions at the side of the tin of formula. Make sure the formula is in date.
- Pour the amount of the cooled boiled water you need into a sterilised bottle. (See the Hygiene section). The water is always poured in before the formula is added to get the correct measurement).
- Using the scoop from the formula tin, put the required number of scoops into the bottle. Usually one scoop per one fluid ounce of water
- Level off each scoop (you can do this with the side of a knife).
- Do not add any extra scoops or too few.
- Seal the bottle with a cap and disc and shake the bottle well to mix.
- The rest of the sterlisised bottles can remain in the steriliser for up to 24 hours.
- If the feed is too hot, hold the bottle under cold running water or place in a large bowl of cold water. Make sure that the water does not go above the neck of the bottle in case in seeps into the feed.
- To check that the bottle is safe to give to your baby, shake the bottle and pour a drop at the back of your wrist. It should be no more than lukewarm.
- You can now feed your baby. Throw out any leftover feeds or a feed that your baby has not managed to take after two hours.
- Current health reserach recommends that you only make up bottles as you need them.
How much formula should my baby take?
This is a guide only and can vary for each baby.
Your baby’s Age
Number of feeds
Amount of formula feed
|Birth to one month||6||3-4 oz (90-120 mls)|
|1-2 months||5||5-6 oz (150-180 mls)|
|2-3 months||5||6-7 oz (180-210mls)|
|3-4 months||5||7-8 oz(210-240)|
|5-6||5||8oz (240mls)Use some of this milk to mix up spoon feeds|
All bottles have to be sterilised until your baby is 12 months old. This is to protect your baby from infections like gastroenteritis which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
When can I stop sterilising bottles?
What else can I give my baby besides formula?·
- You may give your baby some cooled boiled water if he/she is constipated or if the weather is very hot.
- Do not add sugar, rusks or baby rice to your baby’s bottle.
- Do not add medicines to your baby’s bottle. Give them according to the manufacturer’s instructions (Read the leaflet)
- Cow’s milk is not given to babies until they are 12 months old.
- Do not give baby’s tea in their bottles as it makes it difficult for them to absorb iron which is vital to your baby’s health.
It’s very important to stay with your new born during a feed. Avoid propping up the bottle and leaving him/her unattended.The feeding process is a time when your baby gets to know you. Make it a pleasurable experience by keeping things calm during feeds.
Other important things to remember....
- Clean and sterilise all equipment before using it. (See Hygiene section)
- Always wash your hands before you prepare a feed and before you feed your baby.
- It is important to use the correct amount of formula to water concentration i.e. one scoop of formula to one ounce of water. If you lose your count –throw away. Bottles that are made up in advance are fresh for 24 hours only. The rule is 'If in doubt, throw it out!!
- Never reuse or reheat a bottle if your baby does not finish it.
- Do not force a baby to drink the entire bottle if he/she does not want it.
- If you are worried about your baby’s feeding pattern ask your public health nurse or GP for advice.