If you are able, breastfeeding is best. It provides all the nutritional health benefits as Mother Nature intended. In readying for and during breastfeeding, it's important that mums eat a healthy, balanced diet.
If you're considering bottle feeding, seek professional medical advice first. Introducing bottle feeding either partially or exclusively, may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, which makes reversing the decision not to breast feed difficult. Also consider the social and financial implications, such as convenience and cost over time.
When using infant formula, always follow the instructions for use carefully, unnecessary or improper use may make your baby ill.
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How do you prepare a feed? What equipment do you need? How do you keep things sterile? If you're thinking about or need to start bottle feeding your baby, there are probably lots of questions running though your mind. That's why we're here to help.
If you do decide to introduce bottle feeding, expressed breast milk provides similar nutritional benefits to breast milk from the breast. Ideally, you should wait until breast feeding is well established before introducing bottle feeding - generally it's recommended that you wait until at least 6-weeks. Then you may need to express during (or close to) the time you usually breast feed in order to maintain your supply. It's best to take it one feed at a time, introducing the bottle slowly but surely.
Before you start bottle feeding, you'll need to buy:
Remember to check the condition of your teats regularly and discard any with cracked collars. They will wear over time and may need replacing, particularly if your baby has teeth and bites. It's best to start with slow flowing teats for newborns, then once they're used to bottle feeding, switch to a medium flow. Only use fast-flow teats when you're confident your baby can suck at the right pace.
Before you start, use your bottle brush to wash the bottles, rings and teats thoroughly in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher, rinsing well afterwards with hot water and leave to air dry.
Then, there are a number of methods you can use to sterilise:
Always make up your feeds fresh, only as you and baby need them. Wash your hands and make sure all your equipment is sterilised first.
If you're unable to express, want to mix-feed or wean from the breast, you might choose to use an infant formula. Introducing formula is a big step though, so always speak to your healthcare professional first, and be sure to plan how to do it gradually in little steps. It may also mean that your breasts become uncomfortable, so it's advisable to express via hand or pump just to maintain your comfort.
Have a question or want to know more? Our Careline team of midwives, dietitians and mums are here to help you out. Call us on 1800 258 268 - Monday to Friday, from 6:30am-5:00pm (AEST) or send us an email or Live Chat.