There are many questions and doubts parents who are starting to bottle feed their baby have, and rightly so. Here in this article, we attempt to make you aware about the different aspects of bottle feeding and how you can carry out the process in the best and most informed ways possible for you and your baby. This is so because having the knowledge regarding different steps and practices means you know exactly what you are doing, and it averts a lot of unnecessary confusion or stress!
1. Using the bottle to feed your baby
As you know already, you can use the bottle to feed your baby breast milk or formula. Both have their own benefits and uses. Doctors and experts alike suggest that it is best to wait until your baby turns at least a month old before feeding them through a bottle. Also, it is easier for the baby if breastfeeding has been established effectively. In order to have enough time to adjust to the bottle if you are about to resume work, you should start using the bottle around two weeks before that.
Care should be taken to:
- Observe and follow the cues about being hungry that your baby shows
- Hold the baby in your arms and keep the spine upright while feeding: doing so helps in reducing the chances of the baby developing an ear infection or tooth decay
- Change the sides from one to another while feeding. This change prevents the baby from developing a preference towards a particular side, as it can harm the breastfeeding mother. Shifting the baby from time to time also encourages eye contact and development of muscles in the eye
- Not insert or push the bottle into the baby’s mouth. Let the baby have control over deciding when the feeding starts. Be gentle and give the baby time to recognize the bottle and start sucking on their own
- Not wake the baby up if they fall asleep during a feeding session. When that happens, it usually means that the baby has had their full, so there is no need for you to wake them up again to finish the last few drops left in the bottle
2. Choosing and preparing the formula
Figuring out how to mix and choose the baby’s formula can get tricky in the beginning. This is an integral and indispensable part of bottle feeding. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the same:
- Talk to your doctor and pediatrician about which formula is best suited for your baby. Make sure to choose one that is rich in iron
- Formulas come in two forms – one is in powder form, so you have to make it and the other is ready to go. Choose the one that suits your needs
- Read the instructions and labels before finalizing
- When making the formula, make sure not to water it down. Thin formula is not at all good for your baby as it drastically cuts down on the amount of nutrients and minerals you baby receives in each feeding session, thereby hampering growth and development
- For every scoop of formula powder, you only need to add 2 fluid ounces of water. If using the readymade formula, there is no need to add water at all
- Before preparing the formula, wash your hands well. Check the dates to ensure the formula is well within the expiration dates. Do not buy if there are any dents on the container
- Shake the container well before you open it if it is a readymade formula
- Add powder to an appropriate amount of water and wait for at least a minute or two. Lightly shake and swirl the mixture. Make sure that the bottle’s hole has a large hole, as that allows an easy flow of the formula
- Do not shake the bottle too much or you will create bubbles inside which cause gas in your baby
3. Benefits of bottle feeding
The benefits of bottle feeding range from physical to social to mental:
- Using the bottle to feed your baby wholly or even mixed with breastfeeding gives you more time and energy – you can go out, get some sleep, do some work etc.
- It reduces the chances of the chafing or bruising of your nipples
- If your baby shows any allergic reactions, you will be easily able to point out what caused it, instead of having to list all that you ate in the past week or so and try to figure out the cause of the allergic reaction
- As the baby is not affected by the components of your diet, you can eat as you wish without having to cut down on any particular food item. This also means that you can take the medications you are on without having to worry how it will affect your baby
4. How to burp your child
During the feeding process, there is a chance for the baby to take in air. Be it while bottle feeding due to the bubbles inside the formula or otherwise, this air causes gas to build up in the baby. It makes them irritable and fussy, and then they cry a lot.
After every two to four ounces that your baby swallows of the formula, pause to burp your baby to avoid the air getting in and staying there. You will know if the air has gotten out by the burps the baby makes. If there are no sounds even after a couple of minutes, you can go back to feeding the baby. You can burp the baby by either placing them over your shoulder, on your lap, or by placing them on their stomach.
Bottle feeding is not as simple as it is often said to be. Parents and other caregivers have to be alert and vigilant while the baby has the bottle in their mouth. The formula should also be prepare keeling in mind the precautions listed. Consult your doctor regularly and you are sure not to face any serious complications in this process.