Once you’ve recognized baby’s hunger cues and prepared her bottle, it’s time to get down to the actual feeding. Holding a newborn with little head and neck control can be stressful when you only have two hands to do it. Throw a bottle into the mix and it can be downright scary. Follow this step-by-step guide for how to feed your baby a bottle and you’ll be a baby bottle pro in no time!
Step 1: Position baby
To help your baby swallow less air (and as a result, be less gassy after a feeding), be sure to hold her at a 45-degree angle. Support her head near your elbow while extending your arm down along her back. Your hand will cradle her bottom. Hold her near your body so that your stomach provides additional support. She can be angled slightly inward so she is more secure in your grip.
Step 2: Get a good latch
A proper latch on the nipple of the bottle will ensure that baby is feeding efficiently and learning good suckling habits. At first, you will need to teach your newborn how to latch on to the bottle. Take the nipple of the bottle and brush it upwards against your baby’s mouth from her bottom lip toward her nose. This will encourage her to open her mouth wide. When her mouth is open wide, insert the nipple of the bottle, angling it up toward the roof of her mouth. The protruding part of the nipple should be fully inside baby’s mouth, which should be open wide but relaxed, not tense or pursed. It may seem obvious, but make sure to gently guide the bottle into baby’s mouth above, not under, the tongue, says Blythe Lipman, president of Baby Instructions and author of Help! My Baby Came without Instructions! “Place the bottle in the baby’s mouth and gently push her lower lip up to form a seal until she latches on,” Lipman says. “You can gently lower her lip with your pinkie finger while she drinks if it makes it easier for her to eat.”
Step 3: Control the flow
As you most likely know by now, bottle nipples come in different stages. Higher stages mean a faster flow of liquid to your baby. Newborns should start on a stage one nipple and will progress to higher stages as they age. The nipple will do most of the work at controlling the flow of milk or formula to your baby. You should also tip the bottle up so that the nipple remains full. This prevents excess air from getting to baby.
Step 4: Burping baby
Once you get to know your baby’s feeding habits, you can determine when to burp baby: mid-way through the bottle, at the very end or both. There are three positions in which to burp your baby: with her chin against your shoulder; sitting in your lap and leaning against your hand; and laying across your lap on her tummy. You shouldn’t need to pat very hard to encourage a burp, just a gentle tapping. Sometimes all it takes is a soft rub! And remember, baby won’t burp after every single feeding so give it a go but don’t be alarmed if baby doesn’t belch.
Now take a deep breath and relax. You’re done feeding baby a bottle and you should both be a little happier!