Things to know before you switch
If you are thinking about bottle-feeding 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.
Get the support you need, the moment you need it
Before you begin bottle-feeding 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 bottle-feed, 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 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
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.
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.
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:
- Steam sterilising – using an electric steam steriliser, or microwave sterilising
- Cold water sterilising
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 bottle-feeding, 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 bottle-feeding equipment, these useful extras can make your life easier:
- A fast-boiling kettle
- Muslin cloths to mop up spills
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
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.