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Bottle Feeding Advice

Updated: May 24, 2023

Feeding your bay is a wonderful moment in your day to build a close and healthy bond with your child. Whatever mode of feeding you choose, snuggling up and feeding your baby is a special time for you both. While you’re feeding your baby, maintain eye contact. Take time to cradle and caress your baby, look into your baby’s eyes and your baby will look back at you. This helps your baby to feel safe and loved.

If bottle feeding your baby, Unicef UK have some helpful guidelines to achieve best outcomes for your child:


  • Bottles with teats and bottle covers

  • Bottle brush and teat brush

  • Sterile milk formula

  • Sterilising equipment, such as a microwave or steam steriliser

HOW TO PREPARE FORMULA A baby’s immune system is not as strong nor as well developed as an adult’s. This means that babies are much more susceptible to illness and infection. Therefore, good hygiene is very important when making up a feed. All equipment used to feed your baby must be sterilised. Bottles, teats and any other feeding equipment need to be cleaned and sterilised before each feed to reduce the chances of your baby getting sickness and diarrhoea. It is best to use drinking water from the tap that has been freshly boiled (and cooled slightly to 70˚C or above) to make up a feed. Do not use water that has been previously boiled or artificially softened water. This is because the balance of minerals in previously boiled water and artificially softened water may not be suitable for making up formula feeds. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out how much water and powdered infant formula you will need. Different types of formula come with different scoops. Make sure that you use only the scoop that comes with the powdered infant formula that you are using. Making up a feed with too much powder can make your baby ill (for example they can become constipated) and may cause dehydration. Too little powder will not provide your baby with enough nourishment. By using the scoop provided you are adding the correct amount of powdered formula. STORING A FEED A feed should be freshly made up when it is needed to reduce the risk of infection that can make your baby ill. If you have no choice and need to store a feed, it should always be stored at the back of the fridge and for no longer than 24 hours. Any infant formula left in the bottle after a feed should be thrown away. Infant formula that has not been used and has been kept at room temperature must be thrown away within two hours. Bacteria multiply very fast at room temperature. Even if a feed is kept in a fridge, bacteria can still survive and multiply, although they do this more slowly. The risk of infection increases over time so that is why it is important to make up the feed each time your baby needs it. FEEDING AWAY FROM HOME If you need to feed your baby away from home, a convenient choice is to use ready-to-feed infant formula milk with an empty sterilised feeding bottle. However, if you are using powdered infant formula this is the safest way to make up a feed to take with you. You will need:

  • a measured amount of infant formula powder in a small clean and dry container

  • a vacuum flask of hot water that has just been boiled and

  • an empty sterilised feeding bottle with cap and retaining ring in place which can be removed when you are ready to make up the feed

Make up a fresh feed only when your baby needs it. The water must still be hot when you use it, otherwise any bacteria in the infant formula may not be destroyed. Remember to cool the feed before giving it to your baby by holding the bottom half of the bottle under cold running water. Move the bottle about under the tap to ensure even cooling. Make sure that the water does not touch the cap covering the teat. The vacuum flask does not need to be sterilised but should be clean and only used for your baby. The boiling water should kill any bacteria present in the flask. If the flask is full and securely sealed, the water will stay above 70˚C for several hours. FEEDING YOUR BABY

  • Make sure that you are sitting comfortably

  • Hold your baby fairly upright for feeds, with their head supported so that they can breathe and swallow comfortably.

  • Brush the teat against your baby’s lips and, when your baby opens their mouth wide, allow them to draw in the teat.

  • If the teat becomes flattened while you are feeding, pull gently on the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the vacuum.

  • Your baby may need short breaks during the feed and may need to burp sometimes. When your baby does not want any more feed, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to bring up any wind. This may be a very small amount, as wind is not as big a problem as many people think.

  • Look out for your baby’s cues that they have had enough milk. Don’t try and force your baby to take more than they want

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH FORMULA? Your baby’s weight gain and the number of wet and dirty nappies will help to tell you if your baby is getting enough formula. A few days after the birth, your baby should be producing around six wet nappies a day. These nappies should be soaked through with clear or pale yellow urine. For the first few days after birth your baby will pass dark sticky stools (known as meconium). After the first week, however, your baby should pass pale yellow or yellowish-brown stools. Your baby should have at least six wet and two dirty nappies a day, and the amount of poo varies from baby to baby. If you are concerned your baby is not getting enough milk, speak to your midwife or health visitor. 20 Your baby will be weighed (naked) at birth and again at around five and ten days. Once feeding is established, healthy babies should be weighed (naked) no more than once a month up to six months of age and at one year. This weight should be filled in on the chart in your Personal Child Health Record (the red book). If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s weight gain, speak to your midwife or health visitor.

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