tips for bottlefeedingWith the current Government push to encourage breastfeeding, it seems like ‘bottle’ has become a dirty word. Midwives and Health Visitors aren’t supposed to dole out information regarding bottle-feeding, in case it goes against the ‘Breast is Best’ ethos and even formula milk adverts have to make a big deal of saying “OBVIOUSLY we recommend breastfeeding…”. However, for many families, it’s not that simple and breastfeeding isn’t an option, for whatever reason. For me, being pro-choice is about so much more than the right to certain medical procedures – it’s about giving people the choice to live their lives how they choose, and if bottle-feeding is my choice and my kids are well nourished, surely that’s all that matters?

It occurred to me that there’s a whole load of breastfeeding tips and resources out there, but not so much for us bottlies, so I though I’d share my top tips for bottlefeeding here.

  • Preparedness is key – I tend to sterilise all of BB’s bottles at once (we currently have 12) and fill them with the correct amount of boiled water. This way, I just have to add the right amount of scoops when she’s ready for a feed. It makes everything quicker and stops her going into full hungry-meltdown when I don’t feed her fast enough!
  • If you use a brand of formula which comes in a round tin, or doesn’t have the handy bit inside to flatten off your scoop of powder, keep the scoop from an old tin and use the handle to flatten off instead. It saves having to find a clean knife every time you make a bottle.
  • Stopping to wind your baby after every ounce or two, rather than trying to do one big winding session at the end, can really reduce the amount of trapped wind that builds up and could save a lot of pain and tears for baby.
  • Keep them upright for at least half an hour after feeding is a good rule of thumb for all bottle-fed babies, not just those with colic or reflux, so a good sling can be a good investment.
  • Make sure you’re using the right teat. Sometimes, if the teat is too small your baby will swallow too much air or simply exhaust themselves with all the effort it takes to suck. By the same token, if the teat has too big a hole, they’re going to overwhelm themselves with more milk than they can swallow. Also, if you’re using a pre-thickened milk for reflux or hungry babies, bear in mind that the milk is denser and will need a bigger teat (if you’re using Tommy Tippee bottles, their Variflow teats are excellent for thicker milk).
  • When feeding, make sure that the teat is full of milk at all times, and adjust your feeding angle accordingly if it’s not as a half-empty teat could lead to too much air being swallowed and the dreaded trapped wind build-up.
  • Muslins are your friend. BB is a bit of a messy feeder so I tend to put a bib on her and keep a muslin wedged under her as well to catch the bits that don’t land on the bib. They also come in handy to cover yourself with when you’re winding baby so you don’t have to change your top 5 times a day!
  • Try different positions when winding – lots of people hold baby against their body when winding, but sometimes I’ll sit BB with her bottom on my knee, resting her head in my left hand and patting her back with my right. It really helps her to move the wind and sometimes the change of position alone will be enough to get a big burp out of her.
  • If baby falls asleep during feeds, don’t assume that they’re full. BB often dozes off and uses the teat of her bottle to suckle like a dummy, but as soon as I try to take it away she’ll latch on and suck properly again! If they’re really asleep but only part way through a bottle, try winding them, changing their nappy or getting them into a different position and it may re-invigorate their interest.

If you’re a bottle-feeder and have any tips for Mum’s the Word’s readers, please leave us a comment below.

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