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Bottle Feeding and Formula: Expert Q&A

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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

What do you do if baby doesn’t burp after bottle feeding? Does bottle feeding make a baby more likely to be colicky? And, what are the most common bottle-feeding mistakes new parents make?

To get the answer to these and other questions, WebMD had a talk with Jennifer Shu, MD, Atlanta pediatrician and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. Here, Shu discusses baby colic, gas, burping, and other top bottle-feeding concerns of new parents.

What are some common bottle-feeding problems and mistakes?

I think sometimes parents jump to the conclusion that a baby’s gas or fussiness is caused by their baby formula. Instead, it just may be that baby is at a stage when she’s colicky. So instead of changing baby’s formula all around, you’d really do better to talk to your pediatrician.

That’s because intolerance to the baby formula is much less likely than colic, for which we have no known cause -- or cure! So instead of parents agonizing about the formula, they probably just need to wait until baby outgrows the colic, which is usually at about three months.

Another common bottle-feeding problem is the way parents position babies: Some lie them completely flat, which can make babies choke when feeding on the bottle. So be sure to have your baby semi-inclined or upright.

Another common mistake is propping the bottle. Don’t prop baby’s bottle -- it can be a choking hazard. That is also why you should also always be present when baby is feeding, even when she’s old enough to hold her own bottle.

What are some dos and don’ts of bottle feeding?

The main thing: Do [engage in] lots of trial-and-error to be sure you find a bottle and nipple combination that works for your child. So don’t stock up on too many of the same kind of bottles unless you know your child is going to take it well.

Actually, the same goes for formula, diapers, and all baby things: [Don’t stock up] unless you know your baby is adjusted to that type or brand.

Also, when you’re bottle feeding, make sure milk is filling up the nipple of baby’s bottle. Otherwise, she could swallow a lot of air.

What do I do if my baby doesn't burp?

It’s OK if your baby doesn’t burp! Some babies just don’t burp very well, and some babies don’t need to very often. There are a lot of babies that will burp on their own. But for the first few months, most babies do need a little help.

If your baby hasn’t burped and you really feel that she needs to, just lay her down for a few minutes to let the milk and air settle, then pick her up again. With most babies, if they’re going to burp, it will happen in the first minute or two. But if there hasn’t been a burp, you really don’t need to worry.

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