Breastfeeding is best for babies

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Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill.

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Bottlefeeding equipment

Bottlefeeding equipment A lot of bottle

Summary

If you are thinking about bottlefeeding your baby, find out how to choose the best bottle and teat for their stage, plus other essentials like bottle brushes, sterilising equipment and, if formula feeding, your choice of infant milk.

Before you begin bottlefeeding you’ll need to buy:

  • A minimum of six baby bottles. Most babies feed around six times a day, so if you're planning to bottlefeed, this will ensure you always have enough bottles to hand.
  • At least six teats
  • Equipment for sterilising
  • A bottle-cleaning brush
  • If formula feeding, your choice of infant milk

Baby bottles

Baby bottles come in two sizes:

  • Small 120ml/4oz bottles, these are ideal for young babies and newborns
  • Large 225ml/8oz bottles, suitable for older babies

They are available in three widths:

  • Wide-neck, which are easier to clean and fill
  • Regular
  • Narrow-neck

Some makes of wide-neck bottle are specially designed to prevent your baby from taking in too much air, which can lead to wind and discomfort. An added advantage of a wide-neck is that they’re less messy when filling with formula or breast milk and easier to clean.

However, you may find that regular bottles are easier to find teats for, and are more likely to fit coolers and sterilisers. Narrow-neck bottles can also make it easier for your baby to learn to feed themselves as they’re easier for little hands to hold.

When choosing your baby’s bottle, it’s down to what you and your baby prefer.

"Sterilising feeding equipment to kill any potentially harmful germs"

Anti-colic bottles

One of the possible causes of colic is babies taking in too much air during feeding. Some baby bottles and teats are specially designed to reduce the amount of air that babies take in. If your baby is showing signs of colic, such as seeming unsettled after feeds and suffering with wind, it could be worth trying one of these bottles.

Sterilisers

Your baby’s immune system is still immature, especially if they are under 6 months old. Sterilising feeding equipment to kill any potentially harmful germs is therefore vitally important.

Before you sterilise, ensure you clean the bottles and teats thoroughly using warm, soapy water and scrub them with a bottle-cleaning brush. You could also put them through the dishwasher.

Once you’ve done this, there are three ways to sterilise your baby's feeding equipment:

  • Boiling
  • Steam sterilising – using an electric steam steriliser, or microwave sterilising
  • Cold water sterilising

Teats

Teats come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials. The right type of teat for you and your baby will depend on the type of milk you are using and your baby’s preference. For newborns, it’s best to start with slow flowing teats, increasing the flow speed as your baby grows and gets used to sucking.

If your baby chokes, splutters or leaks milk from their mouth during feeding it may be a sign that the flow is too fast – try a slower flowing teat. Again, if you think your baby is struggling with bottlefeeding, switch to a different type or make of teat. Teats don’t last forever and may deteriorate so be sure to check them regularly, and when they need replacing, remember to pick a size to suit your baby’s stage of growth.

Other useful extras

Along with the obvious bottlefeeding equipment, these useful extras can make your life easier:

  • A fast-boiling kettle
  • Muslin cloths to mop up spills
  • Bibs

Next Steps

Add these items to your shopping list:

  • At least 6 bottles and 6 teats
  • A bottle brush
  • If formula feeding, a suitable infant formula
  • Bibs or muslin squares

Consider your sterilising options. Will you invest in a steam steriliser?

Last reviewed: 28th July 2014

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