Have you recently had a change of heart and want to start bottle-feeding your child from breastfeeding? Or you’ve decided that bottle-feeding is the way to go from the start? You may have some questions floating around in order for you to take that complete leap.
We’ve answered some of them to guide you through the process of ensuring you’re using the best feeding method for your little tot.
What is bottle-feeding?
Bottle-feeding is the process of feeding your child with formula or breast milk, served inside a bottle. There are iron-fortified formulas available in the market as a substitute for breast milk. However, the World Health Organisation highly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months.
Who should consider bottle-feeding?
Mums who have decided to bottle-feed from the start may fall under any of the following categories:
- Working mums or mums who cannot afford to stay home longer after giving birth
- Mums who have health issues causing low milk supply such as insufficient glandular tissue or polycystic ovary syndrome
- Mums whose personal preference is not to breastfeed
When can I start bottle-feeding my child?
There is no specific prescribed time for when a child can start with bottle-feeding. If you’re a mum who has just decided to transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, it may take a little while for your baby to adjust to the new feeding method. This is because sucking milk from a bottle means he has to make adjustments in his mouth’s movement. Here are some tips to make the adjustment easier for both of you:
- Introduce the bottle gradually: You can start by giving him small ounces of breast milk. A drop of breast milk on the bottle’s nipple may also entice your child to try the bottle.
- Don’t confuse your child: Breaking the routine of breastfeeding could mean distancing yourself as your child gets used to the new feeding method. With this, someone else can give him the bottle for the meantime.
- Use a slow-flow nipple: Some bottle nipples can overwhelm your baby and make him more resistant to bottle-feeding.
What kind of bottle should I use?
The process of choosing the perfect baby bottle is not as simple as it seems and you might need to try several ones before you find the right fit for your child. Some basic requirements that your baby bottle should meet are:
- Size: Although newborns take up lesser ounces than older babies, investing in bigger bottles may be more practical for you in the long run as their demand for milk grows.
- Types: Baby bottles come in different types, each giving your child a unique and sometimes close to breastfeeding experience. These include standard bottles, the most common type that come in plastic and even stainless versions; angle-neck bottles, which are especially designed to prevent a gassy baby; wide-neck bottles, recommended for babies transitioning from breastfeeding; and vented bottles, which also prevent gas with a built-in tube that keeps air pockets from forming in the nipple.
- Added features: Consider getting a starter kit with features such as drop-in inserts or vents, which in turn minimise air bubbles. Also consider getting extra nipples, a steriliser, and a bottle brush.
How do I bottle-feed my baby?
Here are some tips when bottle-feeding your baby:
- Hold your baby close when bottle-feeding him. It helps create a bonding experience between mother and child.
- Make swallowing and sucking easier by keeping you baby’s head straight while bottle-feeding.
- For added safety, do not prop the bottle to avoid choking your little one. Also, avoid microwaving baby bottles because it may cause hot spots that can potentially burn your child’s mouth. You can warm bottles using warm water or a bottle warmer instead.
How would I know if my baby is getting enough?
When bottle-feeding, parents must be aware of common cues indicating your baby has had enough milk. More than relying on the bottle size as indicator for the right amount of milk, be familiar with your baby’s reaction to the food too. These reactions include turning his head away, falling asleep, or spitting the milk outright.
How do I keep the bottles clean and sanitised?
Ensure all equipment you’ve used in feeding are properly cleaned, sanitised, and stored. Here are some recommended steps to keep baby bottles well-maintained:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before cleaning baby bottles.
- Use hot, soapy water when washing all feeding equipment. You might need to have a clean bottle brush to scrub the inside parts, as well as a teat brush.
- Rinse the bottles using clean water.
- Consider getting a commercial steriliser to make the process easier. Otherwise, you can opt to use a pan and water.
- When using a pan and water, soak the bottles into the water, completely cover the pan, and ensure that there are no trapped air bubbles.
- Cover the pan with a lid and boil the water. Avoid the pan boiling dry.
- Keep the feeding equipment inside the covered pan until usage.
- Once the bottles are sterilised, consider using sterilised forceps when handling them. If you decide to get the bottles prior to usage, make sure to keep them in a clean, covered space.