It is not always easy to bottle feed a baby. The baby may refuse, or the night feedings are a hassle.
Bottle feeding may be necessary, as with formula fed, young babies.
But there are benefits from helping breastfed babies accept the bottle too. Just imagine to pump, call the babysitter and go out for dinner with your spouse. Or to pump and let dad handle one of the night feedings.
But how can you then get a baby to accept bottle feeding? And how is it possible to bottle feed a baby at night without becoming so wide awake from all measuring, mixing and heating that it is impossible to go back to sleep?
The bottle feeding tips below will show you!
Ten Top Bottle Feeding Tips
- Wait with the bottle
- Let someone else bottle-feed your baby
- Create a familiar situation
- Switch arms
- Burp half way
- Make it a cozy moment – sometimes
- Convenient night feedings
- Let dad in
- Don’t focus on how much
- Use the right nipple hole
Wait with the bottle
To wait with introducing the bottle may seem like a weird first tip! But if you plan to breastfeed your baby at all, it is a good idea to wait until the breastfeeding works well before you introduce the bottle. The reason is that suckling a real nipple and a bottle nipple are two different techniques.
The baby has to work more to breastfeed. And smart as he already is, he might start to reject the breast quite rapidly if you offer him the bottle too soon. So start in week 3 at the earliest.
And if not then – wait until he or she is 8 weeks old. For some strange reason babies tend to reject the bottle during the second month of their life. Introducing the bottle during week 4 to 7 can be a hassle. So week 3 or week 8. Or later of course…
Let someone else bottle-feed your baby
A baby that is used to being breastfed by his mom might think that it’s very strange and all wrong to suddenly get a bottle instead. When teaching him to take the bottle, let someone else start.
Go for a walk and let dad have a moment with his baby. (But stay near by if it doesn’t work at all)
If you don’t plan to breastfeed at all, this tip is of course not as relevant.
Create a familiar situation
Warm up the bottle nipple to body temperature. If it’s not you bottle feeding, give the person something that smells mom to keep close to the baby. And feed the baby breast milk in the bottle the first times if that’s what he’s used to.
If feeding him formula, serve it slightly warmed up, to about body temperature.
When breastfeeding your baby, you must switch side between feedings, or even during one feeding. Do the same when bottle feeding your baby. This is good both for your own back and for the baby’s neck and vision.
Burp half way
It is my experience that babies can swallow quite a lot of air when drinking from a bottle. Until you know that your baby doesn’t, make it a habit to burp him half way to avoid stomach pain. Also try burping him if he starts fussing.
Also, to minimize air swallowing, tilt the bottle, allowing the milk to fill the nipple and the air to rise to the bottom of the bottle.
There are also bottles that are constructed to minimize air swallowing. Ask in your baby shop.
Make it a cozy moment – sometimes
I hear everywhere that you are supposed to make the bottle feeding a peaceful and quite time. You should also have skin contact with your baby to mimic breastfeeding.
That’s great, and sometimes it is wonderful to go away some place with your baby and just sit together. The bonding is enormous!
But unless this is your first baby and you plan to stay at home alone around the clock for a year or so, this setting won’t work every time. Life has to function and babies don’t die from eating in a noisy environment sometimes. My poor youngest baby had to breastfeed a lot while I was running around chasing my 18 months older girl. Not a very cozy situation. But it worked because it had to. And he’s a very happy and outgoing kid!
Convenient night feedings
If you feed your baby formula at night, the heating of water, meausing of powder and mixing it all up surely can make both you and your baby (and the rest of the house) wide awake before the baby gets to eat.
To make the night feeding as easy as possible, prepare boiled water with the right temperature in a thermos that is ONLY used for the baby’s water. Then keep the water, the number of bottles you need and premeasured powdered formula in the bedroom. This way you can fix the formula real fast when the baby wakes up.
Let dad in
I suppose this goes without saying, but if you don’t breastfeed, there is absolutely no reason why mom should be the only one handling the feeding. Especially not at night – a great benefit of bottle feeding!
Give dad an opportunity to bond with his child and give yourself some sleep!
Curious on who attends to the baby at night in other families? Check out this poll!
Don’t focus on how much
When breastfeeding, you have no idea exactly how much your baby eats. When bottle feeding, it is very easy to start focusing way too much on the amount that the baby eats. Don’t! Let your baby decide. If he or she gains weight as expected, everything is fine.
Use the right nipple hole
One night I (by mistake) took the water nipple with a very tiny hole to feed my baby. She sucked and sucked and finally gave up and went back to sleep. Poor girl!
Watch for signs that the nipple hole is too large or too small. If baby almost chokes during a feeding, milk flow may be too fast. Turn the full bottle upside down without shaking. If milk flows instead of drips, the nipple hole is too large.
If baby seems to be working hard, tires easily during sucking, the nipple hole may be too small.
Learn more about feeding your baby
- Formula feeding and breastfeeding questions answered at our Baby Help Line.
- General questions about feeding a baby are answered here.
- Find tips and information on breastfeeding here.
- Starting with solid foods? Find advice here.
Please share any thoughts or additional bottle-feeding tips for other parents by leaving a comment below.