Working moms in the U.S. are allowed up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. However, financial difficulties and/or personal choices necessitate an earlier return to work for some mothers.
Whether you’re going back to work voluntarily or out of necessity, you may be wondering how you’ll continue feeding your baby. Cue bottle-feeding. This is the practice of feeding milk (be it expressed milk or formula) to your little one using a bottle.
Not sure of how to get started? We’ve got you covered.
Guide on how to bottle-feed a baby
Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started on bottle-feeding your baby the right way.
1. Prepare the bottle
The 1st thing you’ll need to do is to prepare the bottle. If you’re using milk formula, then it’s simply a matter of checking the instructions on the canister.
It’s crucial that you follow these guidelines to the letter. Most importantly, adhere to the correct ratio of powder/liquid formula to water. Failing to do so can result in severe deficiencies for your little one over time.
Once ready, warm the milk before feeding it to your baby. This is particularly important if you’re dealing with breastmilk that had been stored in a refrigerator.
Now, there are 2 ways of warming milk. One, you can use a device like the Philips Avent bottle warmer, which is designed to warm up to 5 ounces of milk in only 3 minutes.
The Munchkin bottle warmer is another strongly recommended product. This gadget brings your baby’s milk to the right temperature in as little as 1.5 minutes.
The 2nd warming technique entails placing the bottle in a pot or cup containing hot water. Never give in to the temptation of microwaving your baby bottles! This can lead to uneven hot spots, which pose a scalding risk.
If using freshly pumped breast milk, there’s really no need to warm it.
2. Test the bottle
The 2nd step entails testing the baby feeding bottle. First, though, shake the formula-filled bottle thoroughly to ensure that all the ingredients are well mixed. If using breast milk, a gentle swirl is enough.
The next thing you’ll want to do is gauge the temperature of the milk by pouring a few drops on your wrist. If it feels hot, allow it to cool a bit before feeding your little one.
3. Choose a bottle-feeding position
Most babies spend anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes to feed, so you’ll need to find a position that works for you and your munchkin.
Here are some bottle-feeding positions you can pick from:
This one is a favorite of many parents, and understandably so. It allows both you and your baby to assume a relaxed position.
Start by holding your little one close to your chest, allowing his head to rest in the crook of your arm. Confirm that his head is well supported as this will ensure that he’s able to breathe and swallow comfortably.
Once you do, you’ll want to tilt his body to allow him to lean back just slightly. Doing so should bring your baby to a semi-upright position.
While not as popular, this is an excellent position for babies who are prone to spit-ups and acid refluxes.
It involves sitting the baby on your lap in a way that allows his back to rest upright against your stomach and chest areas. This should cause him to assume a fairly upright position.
Resting baby on thighs
This position is great if you’re looking to get some extra one-on-one time with your tot.
Start by looking for a comfortable place to sit, which could be a couch or even the floor. Now bend your legs at 45 degrees and rest your baby on your laps. This should allow his back to rest against your thighs and his feet against your belly while he stares directly at you.
4. Hold the bottle properly
Once you pick a suitable position, you’ll want to ensure that you’re holding the bottle correctly.
Hold it at an angle, inclining it just enough to allow the milk to fill the nipple. This helps to prevent your baby from swallowing too much air as this would cause acid reflux. For the same reason, allow your little one to take breaks when they want to.
How to get baby to take the bottle
Breastfed babies can be quite opposed to the idea of drinking milk from a bottle.
If you think critically about it, it makes sense for him/her to be a little hesitant. From day one, your baby becomes accustomed to getting their source of food from a warm and snuggly source. Thus, they may be appalled when you introduce a foreign delivery system.
Unfortunately, a shift to bottle-feeding is sometimes unavoidable. If you’re going back to work, for instance, you’ll have to get your baby used to this feeding mechanism. So, what can you do?
1. Time it right
The ideal time to introduce your little one to bottle-feeding is when they reach 3 or 4 weeks. By this time, they’ve learned how to latch properly, making it safe to introduce a new delivery option.
2. Try bottle-feeding after nursing
If you plan mixed feeding, your baby will have to learn an entirely different suckling style. Thus, it’s crucial that you help them get accustomed to the bottle’s nipple.
Look for a time when your munchkin is happy and well-rested. Fill the bottle with a tiny amount of milk and offer it to them after a breastfeeding session. Allow them to play with the nipple so that they get used to it.
As long as their mom is doing the feeding, some babies will only accept one source of milk.
Remember, your baby can recognize your scent and voice, so they can tell when you’re trying to feed them from a bottle rather than your breast. If this is the case, removing yourself from the equation may be the best solution.
Ask your partner or another caregiver to do the bottle-feeding sessions. Meanwhile, you can go for a jog or run some errands; any activity that gets you out of the house will do.
4. Wait for your baby’s cue
Similar to breastfeeding, you’ll want to wait until your baby signals that he/she is hungry. Trying to bottle feed them when they’re satiated could be the reason for rejection.
What is paced bottle-feeding?
At its core, it’s a bottle-feeding technique that closely mimics breastfeeding. As implied by its name, it involves pacing the feedings by relinquishing control to your little one.
To achieve this, ensure that the bottle’s nipple is always half full. This forces your child to pull it in, which is similar to what happens when they’re breastfeeding.
With paced feeding, your baby ends up drinking slowly and taking breaks whenever they want to—an approach that prevents them from overfeeding and guarantees smooth digestion.
How to choose the right bottle and nipple
There are a few things you should keep in mind when picking a bottle and nipple for baby bottle-feeding. These include:
One aspect you should check is the type of nipple that comes with the bottle, paying close attention to its flow rate.
The flow rate is what determines how fast the liquid will be moving from the teat into your baby’s mouth. These rates are usually categorized into 3 groups: slow, medium, and fast.
For newborns, you’ll want to start with a slow rate so that your baby can keep up with the flow. Babies aged 3+ months may prefer a medium flow, while those aged 6+ months prefer a fast flow.
Newborns who’ve not hit the half-year mark are highly susceptible to colic. So, when looking for a bottle, check whether it has an anti-colic feature that can help with this.
Whether it’s fitted with vents in its base, a weighted straw, or valves, these extra elements truly come in handy. They prevent your toddler from swallowing too much air when bottle-feeding, which is the root cause of reflux and colic.
Compatibility with breastfeeding
Not every baby bottle is suitable for combination feeding. If you plan to take this approach, you’ll want to look for bottles that give your baby a seamless transition from breastfeeding.
Such bottles have teats that mimic the breast and nipple. The nipples on these bottles may also be sloped slightly for easy latching.
Risks of bottle-feeding
There’s no denying that bottle-feeding your baby provides several benefits.
For starters, it offers a great deal of convenience. It allows you to share the feeding duties with your partner or a caregiver. Another advantage is flexibility. You no longer have to schedule your work or errands around your baby’s feeding sessions. You’re free to go to work, attend events, and run other errands without worrying about breastfeeding your baby.
Despite this, bottle-feeding has its share of challenges, the biggest being the high risk of infections. This study shows that babies who are bottle-fed are at higher risk of allergies, infections, and diarrhea than those who are breastfed exclusively.
To minimize this risk, ensure you clean your infant’s bottle-feeding essentials after each use. Consider investing in a baby bottle sterilizer to eliminate any germs and bacteria from the feeding bottle.
In addition, there are a few safety guidelines you should follow, as outlined below.
Safety measures when bottle-feeding
For stress-free bottle-feeding sessions with your little one, follow these safety tips:
- Don’t forget to check the temperature of the milk prior to feeding.
- Never leave the bottle in your baby’s mouth. This heightens the risk of ear infections, choking, and even tooth decay.
- Never force your baby to drink more than they want. They may end up overfeeding.
- Always discard leftover milk that’s not consumed within 2 hours.
- Clean and sterilize the teats and bottles properly.
- Remember to burp your baby after feeding. This is crucial for preventing spit-ups. For the same reason, keep them in an upright posture for at least 10 minutes after bottle-feeding.
Reviews of the best baby bottles
Wondering which bottles to buy for your munchkin? Check out these top-rated offers:
1. Nanobebe breastmilk bottle starter set
Getting your baby accustomed to drinking milk from a bottle is never easy. Nanobebe understands this, which is why they’re offering the best bottles for breastfed babies.
The bottle starter set includes up to 4 breast milk bottles designed to preserve the nutrients present in breast milk. There’s also a warming bowl (non-electric for maximum convenience), 4 nipple travel covers, 2 breast pump adapters, 2 pacifiers, and 4 bottle storage caps.
2. Philips Avent Natural baby bottles
Do you plan to bottle-feed your baby a couple of times a day? If so, you could benefit from adding several bottle sets.
In that regard, the Philips Avent bottles are a perfect choice. Not only are they affordable but also super easy to clean. Thus, keeping them in pristine condition won’t feel like a chore. Plus, they have wide-shaped nipples, which make it easy to latch.
3. Comotomo bottles
Cleaning baby bottles can consume a huge chunk of your time. Thankfully, these Comotomo bottles are designed with ease of cleaning in mind.
Available in either 8-ounce or 5-ounce capacity, each bottle has a wide neck, making it easy to fit in a brush for cleaning. These bottles also include anti-colic vents, which prevent your baby from swallowing air while still eliminating leakage.
4. Baby bottle complete feeding set
Do you practice mixed feeding where you supplement breast milk with formula?
If you do, you’ll love this all-inclusive Nanobebe bottles set. It contains both breast milk and formula feeding bottles.
Also included in the package are pacifiers, slow-flow nipples, a bottle warmer, and a bottle brush, which is really handy for cleaning.
5. MAM Easy Start anti-colic bottle
If your baby is prone to colic, the MAM Easy Start anti-colic bottle is just what you need.
It features a special vented base system that releases liquid gradually, thus reducing the risk of this condition.
Better yet, MAM bottles are designed to self-sterilize in a microwave for just 3 minutes, saving you time and energy.
6. Dr. Brown’s Options+ wide-neck glass baby bottles
Contrary to popular belief, glass baby bottles aren’t brittle, and Dr. Brown’s set is proof of that.
For starters, the bottles are made of borosilicate glass, which is resistant to heat and thermal shock. Secondly, each bottle boasts an hourglass shape, allowing it to sit naturally in your hand as you feed your little one.
Another feature many parents will appreciate is the wide neck. This helps to minimize spills when pouring liquid into the bottle.
7. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature fiesta baby bottles
Between routine vaccinations, baby toiletries, and other essentials, your little one’s expenses can add up quickly. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, check out the Tommee Tippee bottles.
Included in the package are 6 brightly colored bottles to add a festive mood to your bottle-feeding sessions. More importantly, the bottles mimic a mother’s breast, so you don’t have to be concerned about your baby experiencing nipple confusion.
8. Playtex baby nurser bottles
If you travel a lot with your baby, these Playtex bottles are just what you need. Available in a pack of 3, each bottle includes disposable drop-in liners that facilitate a quick and easy milk formula prep.
To use it, all you have to do is place a liner inside the bottle, fill it with liquid, and attach the nipple. As you feed your baby, the liner slowly collapses, preventing your little one from swallowing air. These disposable liners also make for easy clean-ups.
9. Evenflo feeding angled premium proflo bottles
If you’re looking for baby bottles that will not only reduce the risk of acid reflux but also save you cleaning time, these Evenflo bottles are an excellent choice.
They come in an angled shape, making it easy for your munchkin to control the pressure and flow speed of the liquid. They also feature an advanced venting system that traps air and milk bubbles. Both of these features help to prevent overfeeding and acid reflux.
In addition, each bottle is made up of just 3 components for easy cleaning.
Bottle-feeding your baby offers several benefits, among them convenience and flexibility. However, there are several points you should always keep in mind.
For one, always choose the right bottle and nipple for your baby. Secondly, follow the recommended guidelines when preparing milk formula. You’ll also need to pick a bottle-feeding position that works for you and your little one.