How to Bottle Feed
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Melissa Little
Msc RD, Pediatric and Antenatal Dietician. She is a spokesperson for the British Dietetics Association on TV and in print. Member of the parliamentary group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood at Westminster for the UK Government.
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Formula feeding

Bottle feeding - keeping the bond

Formula feeding can be a bonding experience. Here's how to make every feed a successful one.
Video Tutorial
In Short

When bottle feeding, create a warm and loving bond by:

Having lots of skin-to-skin contact

Making lots of eye contact

Follow your baby's feeding cues

Not insisting on your baby finishing a whole bottle if they don't want it

Feeding little and often.

Not having lots of different people feeding your baby.

Our video is presented by Melissa Little, Paediatric Dietitian

Bottle feeding your baby

People usually think of breastfeeding as a time when you and your baby can really bond, but you can help build the bonding experience by bottle feeding in a responsive way.

When formula feeding doesn’t work as a bonding experience is when parents ‘prop up’ the bottle in some way into their baby’s mouth so they are almost force-fed as they are lying quietly in their pram. There are lots of things wrong with this, the first and most dangerous being that your baby could quietly choke and you wouldn’t notice. Second, you are not responding to your baby’s feeding cues. You won’t know when they’ve had enough and be able to take the bottle out of their mouths. Third, you will be missing the lovely, and very important, bonding time you can have with your baby during a bottle feed. Finally, your baby will feel lonely and anxious if left alone during feeding time as they crave your love. and attention. baby will feel lonely and anxious of left alone during feeding time as they crave your love and attention.

When you breastfeed, there is automatically skin-to-skin contact between the mother and baby. This is really important as it stimulates the production of a hormone called oxytocin which helps the bond develop between mum and baby.

With bottle feeding, you can have the same skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby. If you’re at home, you can simply take off your top while you feed and have a cuddle. You can look into each other’s eyes, just like during a breastfeed. However, make sure you are both covered with a blanket so your baby stays nice and warm.

When you’re out and about, you might not be able to do so much skin-to-skin but you can still take your time, cuddle and look into your baby’s eyes.


Feeding your baby step by step:
  • Get comfortable and always hold your baby close. Look into her eyes during the feed as this helps the baby feel safe and loved.
  • Hold your baby fairly upright for feeds, with their head supported so that they can breathe and swallow comfortably.
  • Brush the teat or nipple of the bottle to your baby’s lips and, when your baby opens their mouth wide, allow them to draw the teat into their mouth.
  • If the teat becomes flattened during a feed, pull gently on the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the vacuum.
  • Allow your baby short breaks during the feed, you may need to burp sometimes. When your baby has finished feeding, hold her upright and gently rub her back to bring up any wind. This may be a very small amount.
  • Look out for your baby’s cues that they have had enough milk and are feeling full. Don’t force your baby to finish their bottle. It really helps them to regulate their appetite if you respect their signals of fullness.

Never leave your baby alone with a bottle as there is a risk they might choke.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.