Guide to bottle feeding your baby

One of the advantages of bottle feeding is that your partner can enjoy this precious time too. It's such a lovely moment to connect, look into your baby's eyes, and enjoy the cuddle.

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Here are our tips on how to bottle feed your baby.

Get comfortable

Sit comfortably – you might need a cushion or two behind you, try not to lean forwards as this can make your back ache. Sit your baby on your lap, supporting their head so they can breathe and swallow comfortably. If your baby has reflux or colic, try to keep them as upright as possible to minimise the amount of air they swallow. Never feed your baby while they are flat on their back, this could cause choking.

How to bottle feed

To start, gently brush the bottle teat against your baby's lips (with the teat pointing upwards). Wait until your baby's mouth opens, then carefully place the teat inside. Hold the bottle firmly and horizontally so that the teat is full of milk (this helps reduce the amount of air your baby swallows). Make sure you're using the right teats with the correct flow (the right sized holes).

If you notice the teat going flat in your baby's mouth, carefully slide a clean finger between the gums and the teat to break the suction. Your baby will probably feed for a while, then take short rest breaks before continuing. Remember to keep checking your baby is comfortable, and in the right position.

Some babies take a while to get used to bottle feeding, especially if they're used to breastfeeding (the sucking action is different). If your baby isn't taking to the bottle, it might be worth trying different teats, changing feeding positions, and feeding little and often to get them used to it. Ask your health visitor for some advice – they may have some ideas to help.

Burping breaks

Your baby may need a few breaks during the feed to burp (this is especially important if your baby has reflux or colic). Sit your baby on your lap facing away from you – or over your shoulder - and gently pat or rub their back. Have a look at our guide to burping your baby for more information. When your baby burps, they may bring up small amounts of milk – this is very normal and nothing to worry about, just make sure you have a muslin or cloth handy! If your baby brings up a lot of milk after feeds, seems unsettled and cries a lot during or after feeds, talk to your health visitor or doctor. This may be related to colic, reflux or a cow’s milk allergy.

Need bottle feeding advice?

If you have any questions, concerns, or need some advice (whether you are breast or formula feeding), call the NCT helpline (0300 330 0700).

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