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Bottle-feeding basics

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Feeding your baby

Botttle-feeding can be a terrific time to cuddle and bond with your baby. Follow these tips to make bottle-feeding easy and enjoyable.

Bottle-feeding baby

Types of formula

When it comes to formula, you have a variety of types to choose from. Powder is less expensive than liquid concentrate. Most babies drink formula that is modified cow's milk. However if your baby develops a dairy allergy, you may need to switch to a hypoallergenic non-dairy variety. Soy formula is also rising in popularity for babies who develop allergies to cow's milk protein. Avoid low-iron formulas. Iron is very important to your baby's development. Your pediatrician can recommend what type of formula to feed your baby and provide suggestions for alternatives when necessary.

How often to feed?

You don't need to follow a strict schedule with a newborn until you can figure out his pattern for feeding. In the early weeks, offer the bottle every two hours, or even more often when you notice his hunger signals. Until your child is about 10 pounds, he'll probably only drink 1 to 3 ounces at each feeding. A general guideline is 2-1/2 ounces per pound of his weight per day. (For example, a seven pound baby may need seven 2-1/2-ounce feeds daily.) After he's about four weeks old, you'll be able to identify a pattern in his feeding and feed him accordingly. He'll likely need about seven to eight feedings in each 24-hour period at this point. As your baby grows, talk to his doctor about how often and how much to feed him.

Sterilizing bottles

You don't need to sterilize your baby's bottles, except when they are brand-new. Before you use bottles, nipples and rings for the first time, submerge them in a pot of boiling water for about five minutes to sterilize. After that, a good washing is all they need. Use hot, soapy water and wash them by hand or run them through your dishwasher. Many dishwashers have a "sanitize" cycle that is ideal for bottles. Your local baby store will have dishwasher baskets and bottle drying racks to make the washing process easier. Keep in mind that if you have well water, you'll want to sterilize the baby bottles longer.

You don't need to sterilize the water to mix with the formula, unless your doctor recommends it because of your local water supply. Again, however, if you have well water, you should probably sterilize it or use bottled water instead.

Warming bottles

You may be surprised to know that there are no health reasons to feed warmed formula to your newborn. However, your baby may just like it. If you want to warm your baby's formula, you can: use a bottle warmer; warm the filled bottle in a pan of hot water; or run the bottle under a tap. Always test the formula's temperature on your inner wrist before starting to feed.

Never microwave a bottle to warm up the formula, however. Microwaves heat unevenly, which can lead to burns. Heating formula in a microwave can also break down the nutrients.

You may find your baby likes bottles at room temperature or even refrigerated. Experiment to find which temperature your little one prefers.

Feeding techniques

Bottle feeding is a fabulous time for bonding and nurturing. Hold your baby at a 45-degree angle and tilt the bottle so that the nipple is always filled with formula. Cuddle your baby against your chest during feedings and position her so she's looking at you.

While feeding, you want to help your infant swallow less air. Listen for noisy sucking sounds and adjust the bottle accordingly. Try different brands of bottles and consider disposable-bag feeding systems as well. Be sure to use BPA-free bottles. When your little one gets fussy during feeding, take a burping break. Never prop a bottle during feeding, as it can cause your infant to choke.

More tips for new moms

The do's and don'ts of diapers
Protect your baby from UTIs and diaper rash
How to bottle-feed baby without the guilt

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