How do you bottle-feed a newborn baby? Whether you're filling the bottle with breast milk or formula, it's essential to have both support and knowledge about bottle-feeding. Just like breastfeeding, bottle-feeding is a partnership between you and your baby, something you learn together. Read on for bottle-feeding tips – and download the LEIA Health app to try our feeding log, which helps you keep track of how and when you last bottle-fed, breastfed, or pumped.
Allow mealtime to take time
Sit comfortably with your baby in your lap, preferably with skin-to-skin contact, and offer eye contact during feeding. Let your baby seek and take the bottle nipple at their own pace; don't just insert it into their mouth.
Be attentive to your baby's cues, let them set the pace, and take small breaks now and then. Don't force your baby if it shows signs of fullness; remember that your baby may be satisfied even before the bottle is empty. Keep your baby in your lap and let them suckle on the breast or a pacifier after feeding if they prefer.
Here are some more tips for bottle-feeding:
Learn to interpret your baby's unique signals, and let them determine mealtime – not the clock.
You, as a parent, decide who gets to hold and feed the baby. Even if others can bottle-feed, it's essential for the child to primarily bond with their parents.
Hold your baby upright in your lap during feeding, with the head higher than the heart. If the baby lies flat on their back, there's an increased risk of ear infections and overfeeding.
Ensure the hole in the nipple is the right size. If the milk flows too quickly from the bottle, your baby may become stressed and consume too much milk too fast.
Follow the instructions on the packaging when preparing the formula. Don't use too little or too much powder, and never add anything else besides formula powder and water.
Maintain good hygiene; wash your hands and bottle/nipple parts thoroughly.
Never leave your baby alone with the bottle; always hold it yourself.
Alternate between holding and feeding your baby from both the left and right sides to stimulate both sides of their body.
" Bottle-feeding my child was a significant adjustment for me, but it also gave my partner the opportunity to share in the feeding responsibility."
The paced bottle-feeding method
When bottle-feeding calmly with breaks, the baby has time to sense whether they need more food or if they're satisfied, and the flow isn't constant. The baby consumes a volume that is more individually tailored, rather than eating too much or too little. This approach also supports the breastfeeding relationship for those who do both, hopefully reducing breastfeeding difficulties and maintaining successful combination feeding.
Search for the paced bottle-feeding method if you'd like to read more about how to mimic the natural rhythm of breastfeeding while bottle-feeding, helping your baby control the amount of food they consume.