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Bottle feeding a young or newborn baby can take a little bit of trial and error in the beginning. Breastfeeding should always be the first choice, but sometimes your situation may mean that you need to bottle feed.
But First, What is Bottle Feeding?
Bottle feeding is exactly what it says it is, feeding your baby from a bottle instead of breastfeeding. There may be a number of reasons that will cause you to bottle feed, your baby may have to stay in hospital which means you can’t always be there to feed. Perhaps you have to go back to work and you have to leave your baby in daycare or with a childminder. You can choose to bottle feed your baby expressed breast milk or supplement with baby formula, which is the only safe alternative to breast milk.
Giving Baby the Bottle.
There’s not a lot of mystery behind bottle feeding your baby as newborns can typically figure out how to use one pretty easily. But first make yourself and your baby comfortable. The most important ingredients in feeding are love, security and bodily contact. Hold your baby close but in a more upright position so that any air bubbles rise and make burping easier. Place the nipple of the bottle against your baby’s lips. He or she should open their mouth to accept the nipple and start to suck. Tilt the bottle at an angle so that it stays full with your breast milk or formula.
When your baby stops sucking strongly, or when they are about halfway through the bottle, gently remove the bottle and see if they need to burp. Once you’ve tried burping your baby you can offer them the bottle again. It’s a good idea to change sides mid feed, as you would if you were breastfeeding. This will help with your baby’s development, and stop them from getting used to feeding on one side only.
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As your baby grows, he or she will need faster flowing teats. Generally, you should start with a slow flow teat with a newborn baby, until they get used to bottle feeding, then you can switch to a medium flow. Cherub Baby offers BPA free baby teats that are designed and manufactured to be soft and to mimic a real teat. They come in slow, medium and fast flow and have an anti-colic system which allows air to enter the bottle while your baby drinks, reducing vacuum build-up and providing a more comfortable feeding experience for your baby.
Plastic Bottles Or Glass?
By nature, glass is BPA free so you don’t have to worry about different types of plastic and whether or not the bottle you are using is safe. Glass is easy to clean, and glass bottles can be easily sterilized in boiling water. If you want a non-toxic baby bottle, you can’t go wrong with glass. For extra peace of mind Cherub Baby’s glass baby bottles also come with a 1-year bottle drop guarantee. Read more about the advantages of glass over plastic baby bottles here.
How Much Do Bottle Feeding Babies Drink?
Every baby will have a different feeding pattern. As a general rule feed your baby when he or she shows signs of being hungry and never force your baby to finish a bottle. It’s normal for a baby to feed every 3 to 4 hours, or on demand. Don’t worry, your baby will let you know when he or she is hungry!
Up to the age of about 6 months, most babies will drink around 150ml of formula per kilogram of body weight, each day. But this is just an estimate — some will need more, some will need less. Every baby is an individual with different needs.
Which Formula Is Best For My Baby?
With so many different brands and types of formula on the supermarket shelves, choosing the right one for your baby can be daunting. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one for your baby:
- Consult your doctor: To narrow down your options ask your baby’s doctor for advice. Every baby is different, and while the majority of newborns do best on standard cow’s milk-based formula, a small percentage may need something special (because of low birth weight or an allergy or intolerance, for instance).
- Steer clear of low-iron formulas: Most paediatricians recommend that babies be given iron-fortified formula from birth until 1 year to prevent anaemia.
- Choose a formula based on cow’s milk: Most babies do best on a formula based on cow’s milk, unless there is a cultural, religious or health reason to use a different formula. Again your doctor will be able to advise you.
- Take into account what you can afford: There’s no getting around it, formula can be expensive. Prices will vary depending on the type of formula you use (powder, concentrate or ready-to-feed), and specialized formulas can be up to 20 percent more expensive than the standard, iron-fortified, cows milk variety.
There is no evidence that one particular brand is better than another, so don’t feel pressurised into buying that ‘gold’ version of the brand. The cheaper standard version will work just as well.
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The Dangers Of Bottle Feeding In Bed
There are several risks to feeding baby with a bottle in bed:
- Increased risk of ear infections: If your baby drinks while lying down, the milk may flow into your baby’s inner ear cavity which will result in an increase in ear infections.
- Risk of choking: Babies who fall asleep while bottle feeding are at risk of drawing liquid into their lungs which may cause them to choke.
- Tooth decay: If your baby falls asleep with a bottle of formula in their mouth, there is a risk of the formula soaking into your baby’s teeth which may increase the risk of tooth decay.
Besides the above risks, a baby who falls asleep with their bottle may develop a dependency on the bottle. He or she may not fall asleep unless they have a bottle, which may cause problems later on when you start weaning.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Bub And Mums
The many benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mums are well documented and deserve an article of their own. To read more about the benefits of breastfeeding you can read our Cherub Baby article here.
Australian Breastfeeding Association (2017). Exclusive expressing. Melbourne: ABA. Retrieved 18 October 2017 .
Kent, J., Mitoulas, L., Cregan, M., Ramsay, D., Doherty, D., & Hartmann, P. (2006). Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day. Pediatrics, 117(3), 387-395. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-1417.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2013). Infant feeding guidelines summary. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
Bottle feeding with formula. Eat for Health (Infant feeding guidelines). Opens in a new window.Raising Children Network (Infant formula and bottle feeding). Opens in a new window.
- How to bottle feed the breastfed baby, by Eva Lyford.