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Bottle-Feeding Your Baby: Do It Right

Bottle-feeding the baby is a balancing act. There might be many reasons to introduce the bottle to the baby – you cannot breastfeed, or you do not produce enough milk to support the baby, or you want your partner to share the duties of feeding. The reason could be any but you should not feel guilty about bottle feeding the child; you should just know the right way to do it.

When to introduce the bottle to the baby?

Experts suggest that if you are able to breastfeed the child, you should wait at least until your baby is three weeks old before introducing a bottle. This is because by then the baby has adjusted to breastfeeding and using a bottle once in a while will not confuse him or her. Also, if you do not try a bottle for longer than three months, you risk the baby rejecting it.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the bottle feeding

DO’s

1. Stroke on the cheek with the tip of the nipple or your finger to let the baby know its feeding time. This cause the baby’s rooting reflex to work and encourages the baby to turn in the direction of the stroke. Place the nipple gently between baby’s lips and hopefully, they will begin sucking on it. If not, then try to put a drop of milk on the baby’s lips to clue them in about the feeding.

2. Tilt the bottle up and keep it that way so that the liquid completely fills the nipple at all times. Otherwise, the air partially fills the nipple and the baby takes it in along with the formula. This leads to the baby having gas which is no fun for anyone.

3. Make sure you are using the right nipple. The flow of the milk coming out of the nipple should be perfect. If the baby is making sputtering or gulping sounds while sucking and the milk dribbles out of the corner of the mouth, the flow is too fast. On the other hand, if the baby is trying hard to suck on the nipple and looks frustrated, the flow is too slow.

4. Look for signs that the baby has had his or her fill. As newborns and infants cannot express themselves clearly you need to look for signs that they are done so that you do not overfeed them, as they will hardly be able to drain a bottle. If the baby drifts off to sleep after feeding he or she has had enough.

5. Enjoy the bonding experience. Feeding, be it breastfeeding or bottle feeding, is always a great opportunity to get close to your baby. Take this time to look into their eyes, cuddle them, and talk or sing to them.

DON’Ts

1. Do not put your baby to bed with the bottle as it not only poses a choking hazard but can also lead to tooth decay and ear infections.

2. You should not warm the bottle in a microwave although it seems convenient because it heats the bottle unevenly which creates hot spots and can burn the baby’s mouth. Keep the bottle in a pot of hot water for a few minutes, instead. If the baby is fine with drinking cold solution, you can skip warming altogether. Make sure to test the temperature for being too hot before feeding the baby.

3. Do not add cereal to breast milk or formula. Unless the doctor advises it, you should refrain from doing so. Cereal is difficult to swallow for babies and also it leads to unnecessary weight gain if consumed in quantities larger than required.

4. Do not try to alter the formula. Read the directions of preparation carefully and stick to them as there is a careful science behind baby nutrition. Different formulas may require different concentration of water.

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