Bottle Feeding | UnityPoint Health- Dubuque
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What do I need to know about bottle feeding my newborn?

Holding and burping while bottle feeding

  • Hold baby cradled close to you in a more upright position
  • Gently touch your baby's lips with the bottle nipple. Wait for baby to open their mouth wide, then place the nipple in baby's mouth. Almost the entire nipple should be in the baby's mouth.
  • Hold the bottle steady. Avoid twisting or turning the bottle.
  • Bottles should not be propped. This can lead to several problems for your baby: ear infections, tooth decay or choking.
  • Early on your baby should be burped after every 1/2 ounce, and then after every one to two ounces or about halfway through the feeding as the baby grows.
  • After feeding, hold your baby in an upright position for about 15 minutes. Do this before putting them to bed or placing into a flat position on their back. This may help your baby to digest the feeding and prevent them from throwing up.
  • Spitting up small amounts of formula after burping may be normal, however spitting up large amounts of the feeding is something you will want to talk with the baby's doctor about.
  • Bottle feedings should take between 15 and 30 minutes.

Bottle feeding: How much and when to feed

  • Watch and feed your baby when they show signs of feeding readiness. If still sleepy at 4 hours, awaken and attempt to feed.
  • Your baby will start by taking 1/2 to 1 (15 to 30 ml) ounce of formula every two to four hours for the first day.
  • You can increase the amounts by about 1/2 ounce increments and feeding that amount for three feedings before increasing.
  • By the time your baby is four to five days old, this will increase from 1 1/2 ounce to 3 ounces.
  • As your baby grows, they will normally take about 12 to 24 ounces per day.
  • You should not force the baby to finish a bottle with each feeding.
  • Keep a record of your newborn's feedings to share with your doctor.
  • Follow up with your doctor as directed.

Preparing and storing formula

  • Feed your newborn iron fortified formula feedings as directed by your doctor. Follow manufacturer's label for mixing both powder or liquid concentrate. Ready-to-feed formula is also available, but more expensive.
  • Clean tap water may be used for formula preparation. Always run cold water from the tap to use for the baby's formula. This reduces the amount of lead which could leach from the water pipes if hot water was used.
  • For families who prefer to use bottled water, nursery water (baby water with fluoride) may be found in the baby formula and food aisle of the local grocery store.
  • Well water should be boiled and cooled before it is used for formula preparation.
  • If using powder formula, mix thoroughly to make sure there are no clumps of undissolved powder in the bottle.
  • Your newborn may enjoy the bottles at a cool temperature. If your newborn prefers warm bottles, warm the feedings safely, in warm water. Always check the temperature of the formula by shaking a few drops on your hand or wrist before offering it to your newborn. It should be lukewarm, not hot. Do not microwave. This may overheat the formula in the center of the container.
  • Refrigerate prepared newborn feedings as directed on the manufacturer's label. Check expiration dates. Always throw away any expired formula.
  • Once the baby drinks from the bottle and finishes the feeding, throw away any remaining formula.
  • Formula and bottles do not need sterilization if the water supply is safe. Bottles and nipples should be washed in hot, soapy water, or may be cleaned in the dishwasher. If you have well water or non-chlorinated water place the utensils in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

AWHONN. (2006). The Compendium of Postpartum Care, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Medical Broadcasting Company.