Newborn and Infant bottle-feeding can be daunting! Feeding their newborn is one of the first things in most new parents’ minds, right behind a birth plan! No matter which option is chosen, most parents need to use a bottle at some point. From leaving baby with a caregiver to get a well-deserved break to letting your partner take the night feeds, bottle skills are something that most families will need.
There are tons of really neat innovations when it comes to bottle-feeding that have come out in recent years. While interesting, they can often feel overwhelming. All you need to begin are a few key basics. The first, of course, is bottles. Choosing which bottle is best for your baby can be daunting. We’ve written before that there’s no perfect bottle for your baby but in general it’s best to start with a slower flow nipple for both breastfed and bottle-fed babies. Once you’ve chosen your bottles, it’s important to keep them clean and safe for baby’s use. If you have a bottle brush, dish soap, and hot water, you have all you need to clean your bottle pieces. Make sure you pull them apart and wash each piece individually if hand washing.
A sanitizer (this microwave version is really simple to use!) is a handy tool to make sure your bottles are safe for baby to use. We generally recommend sanitizing your bottles and pump parts once a week. An alternate option is to pop your bottles in the dishwasher, just make sure you grab a dishwasher basket designed to keep your pieces away from the heating element. A bottle warmer is a great addition if you’ll be needing to heat up bottles quickly, but the same effect can be achieved by setting a bottle in a bowl of hot water or running hot water over it.
When it comes to bottle-feeding, one of the biggest points of concern is the safety of the baby.
- Ensure you wash your hands before preparing bottles. This is a great safeguard to stop the spread of germs.
- Wash all bottle parts separately in hot, soapy water and rinse all residue well.
- Once bottles are clean, assemble them to keep the inside of the bottles clean.
As mentioned above, we recommend sanitizing your bottles, pump parts, and anything else baby may put in their mouths at least once a week. If you choose glass bottles, consider a silicone or other type of sleeve to resist breaking (these Life Factory ones are a great option).
Formula guidelines have shifted in recent years but it’s still a widely-held understanding that baby formula is not sterile. By following some simple steps you can ensure the preparation of your formula is as safe as possible for your baby.
- For babies under 3 months of age, we recommend using liquid formula if possible. If this isn’t an option, we recommend heating the water you use to mix your formula to 180 degrees, add the powder, and allowing the bottle to cool before feeding to the baby.
- Always prepare fresh formula with fresh water.
- Add formula powder to pre-measured water and shake well. It’s important to make sure formula is well-mixed and no clumps are stuck to the side of the bottle.
- Always follow preparation guidelines on the can.
- Never water down formula. The ratios on the can are to ensure optimal nutrition and proper caloric intake.
- Discard after 1 hour from touching baby’s mouth. Formula can be a breeding ground for bacteria once baby’s saliva has touched it and it needs to be discarded.
- Formula can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Make sure you note what time it was made and discard all unused liquid within 24 hours.
Tip: this is a great resource to print out and keep around for caregivers!
Sometimes hospitals and well-meaning friends are so focused on breastfeeding that they forget to offer guidance on bottles in general. Whether it’s full-time, part-time, or just occasionally, we almost all use bottles with our babies at some point. With a couple helpful guidelines and a few basic necessities, you can confidently leave your baby in the hands of your partner, Postpartum Doula, or another caregiver knowing that your baby is healthy, safe, and fed.
Need resources for bottle feeding your breastfed baby? Keep an eye out for our follow up: Newborn and Infant Bottle-Feeding | Breastfed Babies!