How to Bottle Feed
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Formula feeding

How to Bottle Feed

If you are considering bottle feeding, whether because you intend to exclusively formula feed, whether you are choosing to add in bottle feeds of expressed breastmilk or formula for convenience, or whether you are needing to supplement a breastfed baby because of a concern about feeding in the short term, it’s important that anyone caring for the baby understands the mechanics of bottle feeding, and how to do it both safely and responsively to the baby’s needs. This section provides lots of information about how to do just that.
In Short

This article helps direct you to specific information if you are giving your baby any bottle feeds.

Such as:

Paced feeding

Bottlefeeding a baby with faltering growth

What is formula?

Reducing wind

Avoiding nipple-teat confusion

Paced feeding – when is this recommended?

An article here by Emma Pickett IBCLC (’Responsive bottle feeding‘) describes the concept of responsive or ‘paced’ feeding which is ideal if your baby is to be bottle fed and you want to ensure they are getting as much of the benefit of closeness to their parent or carer as possible, and also to ensure they do not overfeed because of the neonatal urges to suck when something is in their mouth and then to swallow any liquid that fills the mouth. This technique helps to ‘pace’ the feed to either –

  • fully bottle-fed babies
  • ordinarily breastfed babies who are being bottle fed while away from their mothers, so that they do not take more than they need at one feed

With both these groups of babies we do not want to over-fill their tiny tummies and potentially stretching them.

If your exclusively or partially bottle fed baby is to be fed at an appropriate pace, then it’s useful to consider –

If you are considering, or already feeding infant formula, to your baby you may wish to understand more about the product, and this is discussed in ‘what is infant formula?

When paced feeding might not be appropriate

Sometimes babies do not gain weight at the expected rate, perhaps because feeding has not been effectively established for some reason in the early days, or because they find effectively transferring milk from breast (or bottle) to themselves harder than normal, and so feed less, or perhaps because they are regurgitating their feed back up and so require more milk, and to have the cause of the regurgitation addressed too. In these cases, ‘paced’ feeding may not be appropriate and so ‘Adding in supplemental bottle feeds to a baby with weight concerns’ might provide useful information on responsively feeding these babies.

Reducing wind

All exclusively milk-fed babies, whether fed at breast or by bottle, and whether fed breast milk or infant formula, may take in air to their stomachs either via feeding or at other times such as when crying, hiccupping and so on, which may become trapped in the stomach contents and need to be got ‘up and out’ via burping so that it does not get pulled into the gut with the stomach contents as they are digested and cause uncomfortable cramping or swelling in the baby’s intestines. Burping technique is covered in ‘how to burp my baby.’

Avoiding nipple-teat confusion

Finally,‘Responsive Feeding of a Mixed-fed Baby’, by Shel Banks IBCLC Infant Feeding Specialist’, describes how families with mixed-fed babies can avoid the so-called ‘nipple teat confusion’, and how they can use bottle feeding effectively to complement breastfeeding, rather than worrying about impacting negatively on the breastfeeding relationship.

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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.