Bottle feeding advice

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.

Expressed breast milk is best

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.

What equipment do I need?

Before you start bottle feeding, you'll need to buy:

  • 4-6 feeding bottles with caps (bottles come in a variety of sizes)
  • 4-6 appropriate-sized teats (ask your pharmacist or healthcare professional for advice)
  • Bottle brush for cleaning bottles
  • Breast pump to assist with expressing and sterile container for collecting breast milk
  • Sterilising equipment, depending on the method you choose (read more about sterilising)
  • An insulated cooler bag
  • Muslin cloths and bibs

What teats should I use?

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.

Sterilising bottles and equipment

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:

  • Steam: electric steamers sterilise bottles in 8-12 minutes, leaving no unpleasant smell or taste, but aren't suitable for all equipment (e.g. breast pumps). Make sure the openings of the bottles and teats face downwards in the steriliser.
  • Microwave: you can now buy bottles that you simply place in the microwave and heat for 90 seconds. Easy! Or you can buy a steriliser that fits in your microwave.
  • Boiling: submerge all equipment in rapidly boiling water for five minutes. Check first that your equipment can actually be boiled and always be careful. Teats wear out more quickly if boiled.
  • Cold water: using an approved sterilisation tablet takes around 30 minutes and is highly effective. You can use a specially designed sterilisation unit or container, making sure the bottles and teats are fully submerged. You should change the solution once every 24 hours.
  • Be sure to follow and prepare according to the manufacturer's instructions

Once sterilised:

  • Bottles can be filled with cooled boiled water and stored in the fridge; or
  • Leave the bottles in sterilising solution until you're ready to use them; or
  • Store on the bench with the teat inverted, or covered with protective cap, until you're ready.

How to prepare a bottle feed

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.

Expressed bottle feeds

  • Make sure your bottle or cup are sterilised
  • To thaw frozen milk, place in fridge or put the container in a bowl with warm water
  • Don't use the microwave to thaw or warm - it destroys the living cells in the milk

Introducing infant formula

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.

Infant formula bottle feeds

  • Boil safe drinking water and allow to cool
  • Measure the required amount of cooled water into a sterilised bottle and warm it to feeding temperature
  • Use the scoop provided and level off with the built-in leveller (don't press or heap powder)
  • Only add the correct number of scoops to the amount of cooled, boiled water as instructed on the pack
  • Securely replace seal on bottle and shake well to dissolve powder
  • Remove the seal and replace with a sterilised teat
  • Test temperature on your wrist before feeding; it should be skin temperature 
  • Feed immediately and discard any unfinished formula

 

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.