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Bottle-Feeding Guidelines

In every doctor’s surgery and hospital reception, the walls are plastered with breastfeeding advice. What you don’t often see are best practice guidelines for mothers who choose to bottle feed their babies. So, to fix this, here are some points.

Don’t let your baby’s crying cause you to start feeding. If your baby is fussy before you start to bottle feed, then he may be fussy during feeding. Breastfeeding mothers are advised to breastfeed often and the same advice applies to bottle feeding. An important point to remember is that formula milk takes about four hours to digest compared to two hours for breast milk.

A newborn baby will need about 85 ml (3 fl oz) per feeding. As he grows, the amount of food and the time between meals will increase. Babies know when they are full so don’t worry if your baby hasn’t finished all his milk. Discard the remaining milk in the bottle; never, ever try to feed this to your baby later. Formula milk that is left sitting is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If your baby still seems hungry after emptying the bottle, give her more milk. You will not overfeed your child.

The best way to bottle feed a baby is right. You hold the baby as you would while breastfeeding, but in a slightly more upright position to make it easier for her to swallow and prevent formula from spilling into her nose and ears.

Do not put the bottle directly into the baby’s mouth. Yes, just like breastfeeding mothers, gently cover your baby’s cheeks and lips with your nipple. This gentle brushing stimulates your baby’s ‘root reflex’.

You can reduce the amount of air your baby eats by turning the bottle to make sure the baby is getting only milk. Wind is uncomfortable for babies and after feeding, they will let you know all their discomfort. It’s usually best to avoid baby wind for both mom and baby!

Take your time and let your child rest from time to time. It is very normal for babies to stop drinking for a while before drinking. As they grow older they tend to lose focus and look for food instead. So, before you feed your baby, make your surroundings as calm and comfortable as possible. If you feel uncomfortable while eating, then change positions. Remember, if you are uncomfortable or distracted during feeding, your baby will be too.

Feeding is not just about feeding your child; it is also giving comfort. Hold your baby close and maintain skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. During feeding, patting, patting, talking and making eye contact with her, and above all, smiling.

Baby feeding is a special time for both mother and child. It can be a relaxing and comfortable experience for both. If that’s the case, follow the points above, and most importantly, follow your baby’s lead; they often know better than us what is the best way to do things.

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