Not everyone can breastfeed-feed their baby and bottle feeding is an accepted substitute, so the new mother should not feel guilty if she is unable – or chooses not – to breastfeed. It will certainly cost more to buy the formula, bottles and teats and the sterilizing gear, but baby must be fed.
Bottle feeding today is much easier than it was years ago when the milk and bottles had to be both boiled to give baby a safe feed. And the milk frequently boiled over, making a big mess all over the stove top. Today you simply use boiled water, add powdered formula and give it a good shake. Gran would be jealous!
The new-born will not need the same amount or type of formula that an older baby will take; the age it is suitable for is clearly indicated on the side of the formula tin. Bottles and teats are also clearly labelled with the age they are appropriate for. When bottle-feeding the main thing is to remember that bottles and other equipment such as teats and bottle covers should be washed and sterilised carefully. The microwave steriliser makes this task a quick and easy one.
Some mothers are so busy they tend to prop the bottle up with a cushion and let baby feed alone, but this should never be done. The risk of choking is too great and besides, feeding the baby gives mother a chance to put her feet up and have a well-earned rest. It can also be a time to bond with your baby, so even if there are many eager helpers be sure that you do the majority of feeds yourself.
If there are older children in the family, they may want to feed the baby, but this should be supervised at all times. Make sure the child’s arm is well supported so that they don’t get tired and let the baby slide out of their grasp. A young child’s attention can be easily distracted too, and they may let the bottle drop down so that the milk is not in the teat.
Rather more organisation is needed when taking a bottle-fed infant out than if you were breastfeeding. Do not make up the formula beforehand unless you keep it cold in an esky-bag. Instead, take the boiled water either in the bottle, then add the formula just before feeding time. You will need to take hot water in a thermos so that the bottle of formula can be heated appropriately.
You can also take the boiled and warmed water in a clean and sterilised thermos so that all you need to do is add the formula. There are many bottle bags on the market that have pockets for various items that make it a great deal easier to remember everything and keep it all to hand. Don’t forget to take the burp mat – an important piece of equipment to keep your own clothes fresh.
Bottle-fed babies should be burped halfway through the feed just the same as breastfed babies are. This gives those air-bubbles a chance to escape before they can cause too much discomfort.