Though Exclusive Breastfeeding is recommended by doctors globally for first 4-6 months of birth, but due to various reasons mothers choose to start bottlefeeding. You may be a working mother trying to feed expressed breastmilk to your baby or a mother who for various issues could not establish lactation and feeds formula milk to her child or like me , you are a mom of twins who needed to feed the other baby while you breastfed one of them.
Initially I used to feed my twins with a paladai , a spoon-cum-diya like device , which is used to feed premature babies in Neonatal ICUs . But as their sucking reflex grew stronger , they started pouncing on the paladai and its sharp edge. So , finally I decided to start with bottlefeed.
Here are few things you need to keep in mind while bottlefeeding , for whatever reason you have opted for it.
When To Introduce Bottle?
If you have chosen to breastfeed:
It is advisable that you avoid bottlefeeding for first 2 months of birth , as till that time breastfeeding is not established and the child can succumb to nipple-confusion and leave breastfeeding completely. If you want to continue breastfeeding successfully, do not replace more than 1-2 feeds/day with bottle as breastfeeding works on a demand and supply principle. If you choose to bottlefeed often, make sure you pump breastmilk frequently (every 2-3 hours) from both sides to keep your supply intact. Night-feeding your child is essential to keep the breastmilk supply at par to your child’s demand. The hormonal reflexes work better when you breastfeed at night. Skipping night feeds in the beginning can be detrimental to your lactation supply. It is preferable to give bottle in the day time.
If you plan to directly breastfeed exclusively earlier and shift to bottle after 6 months, it may not be feasible as some infants refuse to accept bottle if they haven’t taken it initially. So if you want to start with bottlefeeding after 6 months, try and initiate few occasional bottle feeds with your expressed breastmilk on and off (during 2-6 months) so that the child doesn’t reject it completely. If your baby is six months old or more and can drink milk from a cup, you may not need to introduce a bottle at all.
If you have chosen not to breastfeed at all, you can start bottle feed right away.
Which Bottles are preferred ?
There are various brands and varieties of bottles in market , but a few pointers can help you choose.
Look for a
- BPA free plastic / glass bottle.
- Bottles with a vent or drop-in insert helps to avoid colic.
- Standard neck is preferable over wide neck ( as it can attach to most breastpumps and accessories, also easier to accomodate in a sterlizer) .
- Nipples with natural flow which mimics breastmilk flow are better.
- Nipple has levels starting from 0 to 3 , depending on brand. Choose an age appropriate nipple and upgrade as your baby grows. Nipples are also available in smaller hole size for premature newborns.
- Start with a 4-Ounce bottle and upgrade to an 8- ounce bottle as the baby’s demand grows.
- Buy one bottle first and see if it works for your child. Do not buy many together as your child may reject some and accept others. You may need to try a few brands before knowing which works for your baby.
The most popular bottle brands easily available in India are :
This is my personal favourite and I have been using this to feed my twins for last 9 months. Fortunately , we have never faced colic with either of our twins, thanks to the unique drop-in vent insert which is specially designed for this purpose. They need extra effort for cleaning each part , but it is worth the effort.
In the wider neck segment, this is a popular brand and I have heard rave reviews for this as well.
How to clean bottles and avoid infections?
Bottlefeeding requires special care in terms of cleaning of all equipment involved. For this you will need few things:
- Bottle sterlizer : It is a must have to maintain hygiene while bottle feeding. You can choose between Microwave or Electric Types. You can use the Microwave one for travel purposes , as it is compact. I personally prefer Chicco Sterlizer 2 in 1 / 3 in 1 , as it had ample space for 6 bottles and a separate compartment for bottle accessories.
- Bottle Cleaning Liquid : There are various brands available like Mee Mee, Pigeon , Chicco etc. All are pretty much the same , you can choose according to budget and availability. I have been using Mee Mee for my twins.
- Bottle Cleaning Brush : It is preferable to choose the one which is compatible with your bottle brand. I have been using Dr. Brown’s Bottle Brush .
- Nipple Cleaning Brush : It usually comes along with the bottle.
For travelling purpose, you can use Boots Sterlising Tablets to sterilise your baby’s feeding bottles. They are easy to use and sterilise bottles in 30 minutes stat . Just dip the washed bottle parts in cold water and add one tablet per 2-3 litre of cold water . After 30 mini, rinse with clean drinking water and bottles are ready to use. They are highly compact and can easily fit in your handbag.
How to Choose Formula Milk?
It is best if you ask your paediatrician to advice formula milk appropriate for your baby’s need. Formula milk can be cow-milk based or soy-milk based. It is best to choose a formula which most closely mimics breastmilk. Formula milk differs for premature newborns , babies < 6 months and babies > 6 months. After 1 year of age, you can give undiluted cow milk to baby.
Pay close attention to the instructions on the packet when you make up the feed.
Do you need to warm the bottle before feeding ?
It is not required to warm the milk first , some babies prefer warm while some prefer room temperature. There’s no health reason to warm the milk . When you’re ready to feed your baby, you can heat up the bottle in a bowl of warm – not hot or boiling – water, or by running it under the tap. You can also buy a bottle warmer designed for this purpose.
Never use a microwave to heat a bottle of breast milk or formula. A microwave oven heats unevenly, so it can create hot pockets and lead to burns. It can also cause nutrients to break down.
Some precautions while bottlefeeding
- To avoid infections, sterlise all bottle feeding equipment once a day atleast , and wash with warm boiled water and bottle cleaning liquid before each use . I prefer to sterilize before each use.
- Always use boiled drinking water to prepare feed.
- Always feed breastmilk/formulamilk immediately after preparing , as the more it stays at room temperature , the more chance for bacteria to multiply.
- Always check temperature of milk at the back of your hand before feeding baby.
- When bottle feeding, keep the nipple full of milk, otherwise your baby will take in air.
- Take burp breaks in between , usually after every 60 ml of feed . When your baby does not want any more feed, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to bring up any wind.
- Don’t forget to throw away any unused formula or breast milk after you have finished feeding your baby.
- Feed your baby when they’re hungry, and don’t try to force them to finish a bottle.
- Never leave a baby alone to feed with a propped-up bottle as they may choke on the milk.
- To help your baby swallow less air, hold her at a 45-degree angle.
- Just like breastfeeding , bottlefeeding is a time to establish a bond with your baby . So get cozy, support and snuggle her , sing to her and cherish the interaction.
- Wean off the bottle as soon as the baby is able to take milk from a cup.
- Avoid night feeds after the baby ‘s first tooth erupts to keep dental issues at bay.
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