Baby Care Blog

Ultimate Guide to Bottle Feeding your Newborn Baby

Stephanie Martin

Ultimate Guide to Bottle Feeding your Newborn Baby

Written by
Stephanie Martin

Whether you're supplementing breastfeeding or exclusively bottle feeding, proper preparation and technique are essential for your baby's health and well-being. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to prepare for bottle feeding, from equipment and sterilisation to temperature control and formula preparation.

Bottle Feeding Essentials

Before you begin bottle feeding, it's crucial to gather all the necessary equipment. Here's what you'll need:

  • Bottles: Choose BPA-free bottles suitable for your baby's age and feeding needs. It's a good idea to have several bottles on hand to avoid constant washing. There are lots of newborn starter kits (we have picked a newborn starter kit for each brand below)

There are lots of different brands of baby bottles. You may ask: What are the best bottles for newborns? Best bottles for breastfed babies? I would highly recommend looking at the reviews on Amazon for each of these highly recommended baby bottle brands:

Dr Brown Bottles

Mam Bottles - I used these with all 5 of my children

Avent Bottles

Tommee Tippee Bottles

Mam Bottles -Anti Colic and Self Sterlizing Starter Set
  • Teats: Select teats appropriate for your baby's age and feeding stage.
  • Shape: Teats come in different shapes, including traditional round and orthodontic shapes. Orthodontic teats are designed to promote proper oral development by mimicking the shape of a breast.
  • Size: Teats are available in different sizes to accommodate your baby's stage of development. Newborn teats have a smaller opening suitable for young infants, while larger sizes are designed for older babies who require a faster flow.
  • Flow Rate: Teats are categorised into slow, medium, and fast flow rates. Slow-flow teats are suitable for newborns who are just learning to feed, while faster flow rates are appropriate for older babies who can handle a higher milk flow.

  • Formula: If you're using formula, select a reputable brand recommended by paediatricians. Follow the instructions on the packaging for proper mixing.

  • Bottle brush: This tool is essential for thorough cleaning of bottles and teats.

  • Steriliser: While boiling water can sterilise bottles, a steriliser provides a more convenient and effective option.

  • Bottle warmer or bowl of warm water: These tools are handy for gently warming chilled milk to a comfortable temperature for your baby.

You can also use a Bottle Maker Machine to get your bottles to the correct temperature in less than a couple of minutes - perfect if baby is waking in the night for feeds. We recommend Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine - I used this with all my children. It will save you so much time and you will not have to worry about the temperature not being correct - You add your formula, press a button and it's made for you!

Perfect Prep Machine

How to Sterilise Baby Bottles?

Before using bottles for the first time and after each use, it's crucial to sterilise them to eliminate harmful bacteria. Here's how to do it:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling bottles.
  2. Disassemble the bottles and teats. Rinse them with cold water to remove any residue.
  3. Use a steriliser: Follow the manufacturer's instructions to sterilise bottles and teats effectively. Most sterilisers use steam to kill bacteria, and the process typically takes around 10-15 minutes.
  4. Alternatively, boil the bottles: Place them in a large pot of boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Ensure all parts are fully submerged.
  5. Allow the bottles to air dry on a clean towel or rack. Avoid wiping them with a cloth as this can reintroduce bacteria.

After you've finished sterilising

  • It's best to leave bottles and teats in the steriliser or pan until you need them.
  • If you do take them out, put the teats and lids on the bottles straightaway.
  • Wash and dry your hands before handling sterilised equipment. Better still, use some sterile tongs.
  • Assemble the bottles on a clean, disinfected surface or the upturned lid of the steriliser.
All in one Bottle Warmer and sterilizer

Making Formula to the Correct Temperature

Achieving the perfect temperature for your baby's milk ensures comfort and safety during feeding. Follow these steps to warm or cool down baby milk correctly:

  1. Never microwave baby milk: Microwaves can create hot spots in the milk, posing a burning risk to your baby's mouth.
  2. Use a bottle warmer: Place the bottle in a bottle warmer and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Bottle warmers offer a gentle and even heating method.
  3. Warm water method: If you don't have a bottle warmer, you can warm the bottle by placing it in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for a few minutes.
  4. Check the temperature: Test the milk temperature by shaking a few drops onto the inside of your wrist. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.
  5. For cooling: If you need to cool down warmed milk, run the bottle under cold water or place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

How to make up a bottle feed?

If you're using formula, it's crucial to prepare it correctly to avoid burning your baby's mouth. Follow these steps:

  1. Boil water: Boil fresh water and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes. The water should be no hotter than 70°C (158°F) to avoid destroying nutrients in the formula powder.
  2. Measure the water: Follow the instructions on the formula packaging to measure the appropriate amount of water.
  3. Add formula powder: Scoop the correct amount of formula powder into the water according to the instructions.
  4. Mix thoroughly: Seal the bottle and shake it gently until the formula powder is completely dissolved.
  5. Check the temperature: Test the temperature of the formula by shaking a few drops onto the inside of your wrist. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

If you do not want to do this with every bottle you can use a bottle maker that will make your bottles at the perfect temperature

How much milk does my baby need?

Knowing how much to feed your baby is crucial for their growth and development. However, it can vary depending on factors such as age, weight, appetite, and whether you're exclusively bottle feeding or supplementing breastfeeding. Here's how to determine the right amount:

  • Consult with your paediatrician / Health Visitor: Your health visitor is your best resource for personalised feeding guidance. They can provide recommendations based on your baby's age, weight, and overall health.

  • Follow general guidelines: As a rough estimate, newborns typically consume about 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 millilitres) of milk per feeding during the first few weeks. As your baby grows, they will gradually increase their intake.

  • Watch for hunger cues: Pay attention to your baby's hunger cues, such as rooting, sucking motions, or putting their hands to their mouth. These signals indicate when they're ready to eat.

  • Observe your baby's satisfaction: After feeding, observe your baby's cues to determine if they're satisfied. A content and relaxed baby indicate they've had enough to eat.

  • Monitor weight gain: Regularly weigh your baby and track their weight gain. Adequate weight gain is a sign that your baby is getting enough to eat.

  • Establish a feeding schedule: While newborns typically feed on demand, as your baby grows older, you can establish a feeding schedule based on their needs and preferences.

  • Be flexible: Babies' appetites can fluctuate from day to day, so be prepared to adjust feeding amounts accordingly.

Remember that every baby is different, so it's essential to be responsive to your baby's individual cues and needs. If you have any concerns about your baby's feeding habits or growth, don't hesitate to consult with your paediatrician for guidance and support. Enjoy the bonding moments and the nourishment you provide for your little one!

Feeding on the Go: Bottle Feeding While Away from Home

For UK parents, navigating bottle feeding outside the comfort of home requires careful planning and preparation. Whether you're running errands, traveling, or simply enjoying a day out, here's how to ensure your baby stays nourished and comfortable while on the go.

1. Pack Supplies: Before heading out, assemble a portable feeding kit that includes:

  • Bottles filled with pre-measured water
  • Individual packets or containers of powdered formula
  • Clean bottle teats and caps
  • Bottle warmer or insulated bottle carrier
  • Portable bottle steriliser or sterilising tablets
  • Clean bibs and burp cloths
  • Hand sanitiser and wipes for hygiene

Nuby RapidCool Portable Travel Formula Feed Bottle Maker

2. Prepare Feeds in Advance

  • Measure the appropriate amount of powdered formula into individual containers or sachets.
  • Fill each bottle with the correct amount of water, leaving space to add the formula powder later.
  • Seal the bottles tightly and store them in an insulated bag or cooler to keep them fresh.

3. Sterilise On the Go

  • Invest in microwave sterilising bags or sterilising tablets that can be dissolved in water.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to sterilise bottles and teats quickly and conveniently, even without access to a kitchen.
Munchkin Sterilizing bags

4. Feeding Your Baby: When it's time to feed your baby while out and about:

  • Find a comfortable and quiet spot where you can sit and attend to your baby's needs.
  • Warm the prepared bottle by placing it in a bottle warmer or insulated bottle carrier filled with warm water.
  • Alternatively, ask for hot water at a cafe or use a portable bottle warmer to gently heat the milk to a safe temperature.
  • Test the temperature of the milk on the inside of your wrist to ensure it's not too hot before offering it to your baby.
Nuby RapidCool Travel Bottle Maker

By planning ahead and following these tips, you can confidently navigate bottle feeding while away from home, ensuring your baby stays fed, happy, and comfortable wherever you go. Remember to prioritise hygiene and safety at all times, and enjoy the freedom and flexibility that bottle feeding on the go can offer.

Your questions about bottle feeding

Why doesn't my baby settle after feeds?

If your baby swallows air while bottle feeding, they may feel uncomfortable and cry.

After a feed, hold your baby upright against your shoulder or propped forward on your lap. Gently rub their back so any trapped air can find its way out.

There's no need to overdo it – wind isn't as big a problem as many people think.

How to burp my baby?

Are you wondering how to burp your baby after a feed. Check out the video below with tips on winding baby

Why does my baby vomit after feeds?

It's normal for babies to bring up a little milk during or just after a feed. This is called possetting, regurgitation or reflux. 

Keep a muslin square handy just in case.

Check that the hole in your baby's teat is not too big. Drinking milk too quickly can make your baby sick.

Don't force them to take more milk than they want during a feed.

Sitting your baby upright on your lap after a feed may help.

If it happens a lot, or your baby is violently sick, seems to be in pain or you're worried for any other reason, talk to your health visitor or GP.

Can formula make my baby constipated?

When using formula, always use the amount of powder recommended on the packaging.

Don't add extra formula powder. Using too much can make your baby constipated and may cause dehydration.

If your baby is under 8 weeks old and hasn't done a poo for 2 to 3 days, talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP, particularly if they are gaining weight slowly.

Your baby should be gaining weight and have plenty of wet and dirty nappies.

Infant formula and allergies

If you think your baby might be allergic to or intolerant of formula, talk to your GP. If necessary, they can prescribe a special formula feed.

Some formula is labelled as hypoallergenic, but this isn't suitable for babies with a diagnosed cows' milk allergy.

Soya formula should only be given to babies under medical supervision.

Always talk to your GP before using hypoallergenic or soya-based formula.

Dos and don'ts of making up formula feeds

  • Manufacturers' instructions vary as to how much water and powder to use, so it's important to follow them very carefully.
  • Don't add extra formula powder when making up a feed. This can make your baby constipated or dehydrated. Too little powder may not give your baby enough nourishment.
  • Never warm up formula in a microwave, as it may heat the feed unevenly and burn your baby's mouth.

Check out our top picks of Amazon Baby Bottle Feeding Equipment

Bottle Feeding Essentials

For more baby, toddler and parenting information see our Baby & Toddler Hub.

This blog post contains affiliate links - we only promote products that we have used, or are highly rated on Amazon. Your purchase does not cost anymore than it usually would - we just receive a small commission for recommending our top picks.

References nhs.uk.

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