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 for example with formula-fed babies or if you need to leave the house and go to work while still breastfeeding.
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 refusing 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 here 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 bottle feeding 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/she already is, your little one might start to reject the breast quite rapidly if you offer the bottle too soon. So start in week 3 at the earliest.
And if you can postpone the bottle a bit longer, then wait until your baby 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 mom might think that it’s very strange and all wrong to suddenly get a bottle instead. When teaching your baby to take the bottle, let someone else start.
Go for a walk and let dad have a moment with his baby. (But stay nearby 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 that will bottle-feed your baby, give the person something that smells mom (or dad) to keep close to the baby. And feed the baby breast milk in the bottle the first few times if that’s what he’s used to.
If feeding your baby formula, serve it slightly warmed up, to about body temperature. And if your baby is about to be fed by a new person for the first time, something that smells mom or dad will definitely make it easier for your baby!
When breastfeeding a baby, you must switch sides 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.
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 your baby halfway through the feeding, to avoid stomach pain. Also, try burping him/her 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. Philips Avent Anti-colic Baby Bottles is one example (link to Amazon)
Make it a cozy moment – sometimes
I hear everywhere that you are supposed to make the bottle feeding a peaceful and quiet time. You should also have skin contact with your baby to mimic breastfeeding.
That’s great, and sometimes it is wonderful to go away someplace 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, measuring of powder, and mixing it all up can surely 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.
Another option is to use ready-made formula. If you keep it in room-temperature, all you have to do is to open the container, pour in into the bottle, and simply feed your baby! Super simple!
And if your bedroom is too cold, you can either keep the formula container in your bed (yes, really!) or use a practical bottle warmer to heat it up just a little bit.
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 about 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 big 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 is flowing rather than dripping quickly, the nipple hole is too large.
If the baby seems to be working hard, gets tired easily during sucking, or gets frustrated, the nipple hole may be too small.
Learn more about feeding your baby
- Formula feeding and breastfeeding questions answered at our Baby Helpline.
- 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.