There are lots of great reasons for bottle feeding. Perhaps you cannot breastfeed because of your health and comfort, or that of your baby. Perhaps you work and are away from your baby most of the day. Maybe you need to be able to monitor your baby's intake more closely, or perhaps you gave breastfeeding a shot and it just didn't work. In any case, there are a few things you should know about bottles and nipples before entrusting them with your baby's food.
Nipples come in a wide variety of models, but the nipple you choose, no matter what its features, should deliver breastmilk or formula in a steady drip. And whichever nipple you decide you like, you should buy it in bulk. You will need to be able to replace worn, thinning, and discolored nipples immediately because they can become choking hazards.
Bottles, too, come in a dizzying array, and you should not commit to a particular model until you have tested it. Many people prefer glass bottles, but if you prefer to use a plastic one, make sure that it is made from polypropylene. Also make sure you buy at least eight bottles, and that you pick up the four-ounce size for your newborn, and switch to the eight-ouncers later. Newborns' tummies can only hold one or two teaspoons of milk or formula, and they will soon be devouring one to two ounces, but you're still a while away from needing room for eight!
Before using new bottles, nipples, or rings, no matter their shape, size, or features, sterilize them by submerging them in boiling water for at least five minutes and sterilize them more than once if you are using well water. Let them drip dry on a clean towel. Once you have disinfected them this way once, you can routinely clean them in hot soapy water or a dishwasher.
It is equally important to make sure that the milk you are giving your baby
is safe. If your baby is finished eating and there is still a little formula or
breastmilk left over, it's best to throw it out. Every time your baby
has finished a bottle, you need to clean it thoroughly. If you're using
formula, make sure to follow the directions on the package when preparing
it, and boil the water for one to two minutes before using it, even if the
water you used was bottled rather than tap. When you're pumping milk for your baby, date the bottle or plastic liner you express into, refrigerate it, and make sure to use the milk within three or four days. Kept at room temperature, milk is usable for only 12 to 24 hours, but if you freeze the milk, at zero degrees, it can keep for as long as three to six months, though it does lose some of its antibodies.
When you are thawing frozen milk, or heating refrigerated milk, make sure to use your stovetop rather than your microwave. Microwaves heat unevenly. On your stovetop, heat water to below the boiling point with the bottle immersed, or use a bottle warmer. There is no reason to warm milk or formula before a feeding, but some babies prefer it warm because it reminds them of breastmilk direct from you. To ensure an accurate test and to redistribute the cream layer, shake the bottle before testing the temperature giving it to your baby.
Until your baby is on a schedule, you should offer to feed him or her every two to three hours, or whenever he seems hungry. To prevent him from taking in too much air, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and make sure that the nipple and neck of the bottle are always full. And never force your baby to suck down any more than he seems to want; when he spits out the nipple, he's done.
After every one to two ounces consumed burp your baby over your shoulder, over your lap, or while sitting and rocking. Don't rush the feedings. Watch your baby, respond to his cues, maintain eye contact, and cuddle away! Feedings are some of the most special mother-baby moments there are!