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Bottle Feeding Basics

There is undoubtedly more work involved in bottlefeeding as compared to breastfeeding but very soon a routine will be established of cleaning and sterilizing the equipment, formula preparation and giving the bottle. Bottlefed babies are mostly fed with modified cow's milk. All formulas are formulated according to government regulations to ensure they replicate human milk as closely as possible and contain the correct amounts of fat, protein and vitamins. Inappropriate levels of protein and minerals can put a strain on baby's immature kidneys and cause dehydration. Cow's milk doesn't contain sufficient iron for young babies; goat's milk and condensed or carnation milk are not suitable for young infants. Hence infant formula fed from the bottle is a healthy alternative to breast milk. Formula can be bought in powder, liquid concentrate and ready-to-feed forms available in most supermarkets and pharmacies. There are certain guidelines to making formula milk. Good hygiene and following manufacturer's instructions take precedence.

Safety Issues


Never heap or pack a scoop of formula or add an extra one in the hope of providing extra nourishment. Instead read the instructions carefully and follow it and ensure the correct amount of water is filled to the number of scoops. Always use the scoop provided. Over-concentrated formula makes the baby dehydrated and a weaker mixture results in an undernourished baby. For extra formula, add more water and powder in the right proportions. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions totally.


Never leave your baby to feed from a propped up bottle even when she grows older. There is always the risk that she can choke. Feeding this way can cause baby to swallow a lot of air with the feed. Inspect bottle teats each time you wash them to ensure they are not worn or damaged.

Bacteria free:

Keep your baby's formula free from germs by washing your hands before handling formula or equipment. Keep the can tightly closed and sterilize everything you use for measuring, mixing or storing the made up formula. This includes bottles, teats and teat covers. Make a bottle as and when your baby needs one. Discard remnants as it contains bacteria from baby's saliva.

Milk Temperature:

Most babies don't mind taking milk that is slightly colder than body temperature; it should be at room temperature preferably. Do not use microwave to heat formula as the bottle may feel cold but the contents may have hot spots and could scald your baby's mouth. Even if you choose to warm in the microwave ensure the bottle is well shaken to increase the evenness and test the temperature by letting a couple of drops fall on the inside of your wrist. It should just feel warm. Feed your baby right away and discard any leftovers within the hour.

Excess Milk:

Never store warm formula in a thermos or electric bottle warmer. Throw away any formula your baby leaves behind. Don't try to save that half bottle for next time by storing it in the fridge.

The Basics

1. Babies need a breast milk substitute for the entire first year of life. You cannot count on cow's milk to provide the nutrition as it contains too little sugar and the wrong kind of fat. The protein cannot be properly digested in your baby's tiny stomach and the absence of iron makes it inappropriate. Babies under one should not be fed any kind of unmodified cow's milk.

2. Infant formula contains the extra mineral critical for the health of your newborn. Liquid colloidal minerals added to the formula will give your baby over 60 essential minerals required for proper physical development.

3. Formula kept at room temperature becomes an ideal breeding ground for germs. A new baby has few defenses against germs. Since she is able to pick up innumerable number of germs from a bottle standing around in a warm room, don't leave one lying around. Reduce the risk of gastroenteritis by keeping your baby's formula free from bacteria as possible.

4. If you add too much of powder, the feed will be too strong with too much protein, fat, salt and less water. She will become fat from too many calories and feel thirsty from too much salt. The result can be one unhappy baby who cries a lot and because she cries a lot you will give her another bottle. If that bottle is concentrated again baby will even be thirstier. The result will be a baby who cries a lot, puts on a lot of weight and seems to need a lot of feeding.

5. It's a bad idea to keep formula warm when you plan an outing. Bottles once heated should be fed right away. Warm formula kept longer than an hour can cause bacteria to breed rapidly causing stomach infection in your baby. Take bottles of prepared formula in a cool box and warm them when he is hungry in a bottle warmer. Alternatively you can measure formula powder into empty milk containers and mix with boiled water as you need one. Always carry an extra feed during the trip.

6. Never introduce a routine at such a tender age. Baby's routine right now is irregular with frequent intervals. Baby tends to take longer to digest formula as it contains slightly more protein than breast milk and hence delays hunger for longer. At this stage your baby will probably not take over 60 ml or 2 oz at each feed. This will increase in quantity and decrease in frequency as he grows older. Let him determine when he is to be fed. Don't feel your baby has to finish his bottle; he will only get too full and posset it back.

Possetting is when your baby brings food straight back up. Common cause of possetting in young babies is overfeeding. If you feel your baby didn't feed well, offer her more food. If she doesn't take it you can assume she has had her fill. Forcible vomiting, if it occurs after several feeds, should be assessed by your pediatrician immediately as it can lead to dehydration.

8. Do not change milk formula without consulting your pediatrician first. If you feel your baby isn't feeding well or gaining adequate weight consider changing to another brand or type but first consult your doctor for advice.

9. Full term babies are sometimes diagnosed as intolerant to lactose or protein in cow's milk. They have difficulties digesting and eliminating the protein from a dairy-based formula. There are a range of specialized formulas which include hypoallergenic and soy milk formulated to provide babies with all the necessary nutrients. Consider trying soy-based formula for one month.

When storing prepared formula in the fridge ensure it is not stored beyond 24 hours. Keep the bottles in the main body of the fridge as it is cooler and not the door of the fridge.

11. During feeds, ensure you and baby are in a comfortable position. Keep the bottle tilted at an angle of 45 degrees so that the top is filled with formula and not air. Always bottle-feed your baby with her head higher than her body in a semi-upright or upright position. Do not let baby feed in a lying down position as this will cause fluids to collect in the ear canal causing ear infections.

Once baby stops sucking or when the feed is over, you may want to burp your baby by holding her upright against your shoulder and rub or pat her back gently. Since babies may posset, it is a good idea to place a napkin over your shoulder. If she doesn't burp after 3 minutes she probably does not need to.

13. When cleaning the equipment wash the bottles, teats, rings, discs and caps individually with a bottlebrush in soapy water. Scrub the teats and other parts thoroughly and rinse everything in warm running water. Sterilize all the equipment in a chemical sterilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively boil most of the items in a covered pan for 10 minutes and the teats for only 3 minutes.

Always wash your hands before preparing formula. Boil water for about 2 minutes. Let it cool. Avoid using bottled water or repeatedly boiled water as they may contain too much mineral salts.

15. After a few months your baby's unique pattern will evolve on its own. Don't be overly concerned about baby demanding food frequently just because you are feeding her whenever she seems hungry.

An afterthought


Fat cells once produced cannot be removed. As such chubby babies grow into fat adults. It is very easy to overfeed a bottlefed baby by simply adding extra formula into the bottle and thereby extra calories. Secondly in your bid to feed her properly you will make sure she finishes to the last drop of every feed even if she doesn't need it. Introducing solids too early and syrupy drinks or fruit juices as substitutes for water are other mistakes some mothers make.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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