Baby Drinking from Baby Bottle
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Options for Baby Bottles

Should you opt for glass or plastic baby bottles? Your baby may give clues to which he likes best. Some things to consider: Plastic bottles are lighter than glass and are shatterproof. But some parents may want to avoid a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) that is used in some plastic bottles. If so, look for plastic bottles that say "BPA-free."

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Baby Bottle Nipples
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Baby Bottle Nipples

Most nipples are made of silicone or latex and come in various shapes. They sometimes have different "flow rates," which correspond to the size of the nipple's hole. You may want to try several types of nipples to see what your baby likes best. Check nipples regularly for signs of wear or cracking, and replace any ones that are worn or discolored, because they may pose a choking risk.

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Sterilize Baby Bottles & Nipples
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Sterilize Bottles Before First Use

Before using baby bottles or nipples for the first time, sterilize them in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. After that, you can wash bottles and nipples with detergent and hot water -- by hand or in the dishwasher -- each time you use them to feed your baby. You may prefer to wash bottles by hand as there have been some recent studies that show concern about chemicals leaching from plastic when exposed to hot temperatures.

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Baby Drinking Formula from Bottle
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Stick to Breast Milk or Formula

Give your newborn only pumped breast milk or formula in the bottle -- no water or juice. Mix formula exactly as noted on the formula label. Adding too much water thins the formula, skimping on nutrition. Too little water may be harsh for your baby's stomach and kidneys.

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Father preparing baby formula
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Choosing a Formula

Most parents start with formula made from cow's milk. Soy formulas and hypoallergenic formulas are also available. If your baby is younger than 1 year, make sure you use an iron-fortified formula. You can buy formula in powdered, concentrated, or ready-to-use forms. By 6 months of age, your baby should be drinking between 6 and 8 ounces per feeding.

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Man Testing Baby Formula
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Warming Formula

It's fine to give your baby a cool or room temperature bottle. If he prefers warm formula, place the filled bottle in warm water or run hot tap water over the bottle for one to two minutes. Don't put the bottle in the microwave; it can create hot spots that could burn your baby's mouth. Shake the formula and put a drop on the top of your hand to test the temperature. Don't test it on your wrist; it's less sensitive to heat.

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mother bottle feeding  newborn baby
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How to Hold Baby

Put a bib on your baby and have a cloth ready to clean any spit-up milk or formula. Now, cradle your baby with his head a bit higher than the rest of his body. Hold the bottle; don't prop it up by itself. This can help prevent choking, extra gas, tooth decay, and provide bonding time. It’ll also help you better judge when he's finished eating. If your baby slows his eating, try burping after every 2 ounces.

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mother bottle feeding  newborn baby
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How Do You Know When Baby's Done?

Your baby will let you know when she is finished feeding. She may stop sucking, turn away from the bottle, or, if she's old enough, push the bottle away. You may want to give her a chance to change her mind, but don't force her to finish what's in the bottle.

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mother burping  newborn baby
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How to Burp Your Baby

If your baby needs a burp during or after feeding, hold her on your lap or rest her on your shoulder. Gently pat or rub baby's back. You can also lay baby tummy-down on your lap, supporting her head, while you pat her back. Your baby may spit up some milk, so have a cloth on your shoulder or lap. If she doesn't burp after a few minutes but seems comfortable, don't worry. Not every baby burps after every feeding.

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Man Holding Baby Bottles
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How Long Can You Store Milk?

Formula left over in the bottle should be thrown out. Immediately refrigerate opened packages of unused liquid formula and extra mixed formula and use within 48 hours. If left out more than one hour, trash it. Don't mix big batches of formula. Make it as needed. Refrigerate breast milk for use within 5 days. Or freeze it. It can last up to four months in a standard freezer, or up to six to 12 months in a deep freeze of 0 degrees or colder. Make sure it is stored in the back of the freezer and not in the door.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 02/16/2017 Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on February 16, 2017

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SOURCES:

WebMD Medical Reference: "Breast vs. Bottle for Feeding Your Baby."
WebMD Medical Reference: "Baby Bottles: Glass vs. Plastic."
NPR.org: "Study: Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Like Chemicals."
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Bottle-Feeding -- Promoting Healthy Growth and Development."
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Bottle-Feeding - Topic Overview."
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Bottle-Feeding - What is Expected."
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): "Feeding Your Baby With Breast Milk or Formula."
FDA: "Food Safety for Moms-to-Be."
U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Feeding Infants."
American Academy of Family Physicians: "Infant Formula."
FDA: "Breast Milk."

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on February 16, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.