The art of bottle feeding is not very tough to master. For most mothers, it comes as naturally as (or easier than) breastfeeding.
First things first
The first step is to choose a suitable infant formula. Prepare the formula just before baby's feeding time. Pumping milk, like breastfeeding takes some time to perfect but breast milk can be stored at room temperature for a longer time.
If you want to try an infant formula-breast milk combo, introduce the bottle after baby is a breastfeeding expert. You can expect this to happen in the first four weeks. This will help avoid nipple confusion.
After every feed, make sure the bottle is thoroughly rinsed and cleaned. Sterilizing the bottle is not necessary once baby is six months old.
Getting started on the bottle
Give baby a “start feeding signal" by stroking her cheek with the tip of the teat. Her rooting reflex will make her turn in the direction of the teat and she will start sucking from the teat.
Tilt the bottle in a way such that the teat is always completely filled with formula. This will prevent baby taking up too much air and save you the anxiety of dealing with a gassy baby later. Better still is to use an angled bottle that helps retain the formula in the teat. Burp baby in between feeds and after every feed.
Check the flow of formula. Turn the bottle upside down. Milk should spray a little and then start flowing steadily drop by drop. Baby's sucking and gulping movements will also help you judge the flow.
Your baby might drink only a few milliliters of formula in the first few days. For a rough guide on how much formula baby needs, refer to infant formula fundamentals.
If your baby rejects the bottle, let someone else offer it to her instead of you. A baby who has been breast fed for sometime might not readily accept the bottle.
More bottle feeding basics
Never prop the bottle and leave your baby alone during a feed. This not only poses a risk of choking but also deprives baby from the emotional gratification she receives from being cuddled. This habit can also lead to tooth decay once baby's teeth start coming in.
Skin to skin contact promotes bonding between baby and whoever is offering her the bottle. Bottle feeding gives dad a wonderful chance to forge a great relationship with baby.
Do not force the bottle. Let baby decide how much to drink and how long to drink. Force-feeding will make baby averse to milk and can lead to plumpness and obesity in later life.
If you wanted to breast feed your baby and ended up bottle-feeding instead, there is no need to take a guilt trip. Whether you are planning to feed baby formula or breast milk in a bottle, the most important ingredient is love. Show your baby that you care by cuddling up during feeding sessions and watch her bask in your affection.
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