TRACEY LATTIMORE helps you wade through the different types of formula, bottles and teats so you can decide what’s best for your baby.
Feeding your perfect little newborn is a wonderfully bonding experience for both mum and dad – after all, watching your baby suckle is such a warming sight, and knowing that she’s getting all the nourishment she needs is comforting for you too. And while we all know that breast milk is best for babies, not all mums can – or choose – to breastfeed their baby. Some new mums begin by breastfeeding, but find that problems with their milk supply or sore, cracked nipples prevents them from being able to give their baby all the calories she needs, so they may end up supplementing with formula. Others simply prefer the idea of being able to share feeds with their partner, so start their baby on bottles straight away. While it doesn’t take much to get the hang of bottle-feeding, for the uninitiated, the vast array of bottles, formulas and accessories can seem pretty daunting at first. How do you know which formula to choose? What do you do when you’re out for the day? And what’s the difference between teats? Don’t worry – we’ve compiled ten top tips for bottle-feeding your baby, so read on and take note!
1. What type of formula should I use for my baby?
You’ll find an array of different formula milks on the supermarket shelves, and it can be very confusing as to which one you should choose. Formula comes in either powder form or ready-made in cartons – this option is more expensive, but can be handy if you’re going out and want the simplicity of being able to use a feed straight away. Formula for newborns is usually marked first infant milk, and can be used from birth. For hungrier babies, ‘hungry infant milk’ is more filling, but should only be used if you’re sure that the first infant milk isn’t satisfying your little one. You can buy both organic and non-organic formula milks too. There are also follow-on milks, but these are not suitable for babies under six-months-old.
2. My baby is lactose intolerant – what can I feed her?
For babies with intolerances, there are some formula milks available that don’t contain milk protein or lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the digestive system is unable to break down lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, colic, abdominal pain, eczema and failure to gain weight adequately. There are also some types of formula that are based on soya protein, but be aware that some babies can also be allergic or intolerant to soya. Always check with a health professional before giving soya formula to your baby.
3. What type of bottle should I use?
There are various different types, shapes and sizes of bottle available. Start off with smaller bottles as they’ll take up less space in your bag when you’re out and about, and move onto bigger ones as your baby’s appetite dictates, or your health advisor suggests. But it’s the teat that can make all the difference. Some mums try different types until they find one that suits their baby. You’ll need to start off with a teat that has a slow flow-rate – meaning that milk comes out slowly in small drops – so that your baby doesn’t take in too much milk at once. When your baby is ready to move to a faster-flowing teat (one that has bigger or more holes), she will probably start to suck harder in order to get more milk, or get frustrated. Some bottles and teats are designed to reduce colic, too – shop around and tryout different types until you find one that your baby is happy with.
4. What does BPA-free mean?
BPA stands for Bisphenol A, and it’s a chemical that has been used to make plastic products such as baby bottles as it doesn’t shatter easily. However, some experts believe that BPA can leach out of the plastic and into the milk, especially when heated to high temperatures, and have an effect on the body. Many manufacturers have switched to BPA-free materials for their bottles –these will be marked BPA-free on the packaging.
5. How do I make up a feed?
It’s really important to follow the instructions on the formula box, as all feeds differ. But the basic rules are the same. Always make sure you use a sterilised bottle and teat, and fill the bottle to the correct level with freshwater that has been boiled in the kettle and allowed to cool for no more than 30minutes (this should be around 70°C,in order to kill any bacteria in the milk powder). Carefully measure the formula using the scoop provided in the box, level it off using a knife and add the right amount of scoops to the bottle. Put the teat and bottle cap on, and shake until the powder has dissolved. The milk then needs to be cooled down to the right temperature, so hold the bottle, with the lid still on, under cold running water. Test the milk by dripping a few drops on to the inside of your wrist –it should feel lukewarm.
6. Can I make up and store feeds in advance?
If you’re going to be at home for the day it’s best to make up fresh feeds each time your baby needs feeding. Any milk left over from a feed, or milk that hasn’t been used within two hours, must be thrown away as it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. However, if you need to take made-up formula to a nursery or childminder, for example, then you should make up a feed and then cool it at the back of your fridge immediately. Put the sealed bottle in a cool bag with an ice pack, and then put it straight in the fridge when you reach your destination. The feed can then be warmed up by standing it in a jug of hot water for a few minutes. Don’t use a microwave – it can cause ‘hotspots’ in the milk and possibly scald your baby. Alternatively, you could use a carton of ready-made formula if you’re going out, and simply warm it in your baby’s bottle when you need it.
7. Do I really need to sterilise bottles and teats?
Yes. It’s really important to ensure that bottles, lids, teats and any other equipment used for feeding are washed and sterilised before they are used, as new babies don’t have very well developed immune systems and could become very ill if feeds aren’t prepared properly. Wash the bottle and teat in hot, soapy water using a special bottle brush, then rinse. You can then use a steam steriliser or cold water sterilising solution (using a sterilising tablet). And make sure you wash your hands before making up a feed, too.
8. What is ’spitup’?
All babies regurgitate a bit of milk – this is also known as ‘spit-up’ or posseting. This is nothing to worry about, and both breast-fed and bottle-fed babies do it.
9. How do I burp my baby?
Bottle-fed babies need winding more often than breast-fed babies, as it’s easy for them to take in air as they feed. This can make your little one feel uncomfortable and full, even when she might not be. Once she’s finished feeding, sit her on your lap and gently pat or rub her back, leaning her slightly forwards. You could also try putting her over your shoulder and rubbing her back, or lying her face down on your lap while you rub her back.
10. What accessories are there to help?
As well as an array of different bottle and teats, there are various other gadgets on the market designed to make your life easier. Insulated bags or changing bags with special insulated pockets are designed for keeping feeds cool, while mini flasks are just the job for transporting hot water for making up fresh feeds. So it’s wise to invest in what you can. You can also buy special tubs in which you put carefully measured scoops of formula, so that when you’re out, you simply open the compartment and pour the powder into the bottle. Genius!