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Bottle-Feeding - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

Buying formula and supplies

Try to buy your formula and supplies before the baby is born. You can buy infant formula as a liquid concentrate or a powder that you mix with water. Formulas also come in a ready-to-feed form, which costs the most. Always use an iron-fortified formula unless your doctor advises otherwise. If you have questions about which infant formula is right for your baby, talk with your doctor.

When you buy baby bottles and nipples, make sure you have a supply of small bottles [about 4 fl oz (120 mL)] for your baby's first few weeks. You may want to buy a variety of different bottle nipples so you can experiment to see which type your baby prefers.

Preparing infant formula

Some things to keep in mind when you prepare infant formula:

  • Make sure you have clean, safe water to prepare infant formula. Boil water—even bottled water—for 1 to 2 minutes, and let it cool before you mix it with the formula. You may want to check with your local water supplier about your water's fluoride level.
  • Wash your hands before you prepare formula. And make sure the equipment you use, including the mixer and the top of a can of powder, are clean.
  • Add the required amount of water to mix the formula. If you add too little water, it can upset your baby's stomach and may harm his or her kidneys. If you add too much water, your baby will not get the nutrition he or she needs.
  • Cover the prepared formula and store it in a refrigerator. It should be used within 24 hours.
  • Soak dirty baby bottles in water and dish detergent. Wash bottles and nipples in the upper rack of the dishwasher or hand-wash them in hot water with dish detergent. Some doctors recommend boiling bottles and nipples for 5 to 10 minutes after washing them.

Feeding your baby

Always wash your hands before feeding your baby.

  • Warm the formula to room temperature or body temperature before feeding. It is best to warm it in a pan of heated water for 5 to 10 minutes before you feed your baby. Don't use the microwave. Microwaving formula can cause hot spots in the formula that can burn your baby's mouth. Before you feed your baby, check the temperature of the formula by dropping a small amount on the inside part of your wrist. It should be warm, not cold or hot.
  • Place a bib or cloth under your baby's chin to help keep his or her clothes clean. Have a second cloth handy to use when burping your baby.
  • Hold your baby in a semi-upright position, with your baby's head resting in the crook of your elbow. Keep your baby's head higher than his or her chest.
  • Stroke the center of the baby's lower lip to encourage your baby to open his or her mouth wider. With an open mouth, the wider part of the bottle nipple will fit, allowing your baby to make a tight seal between his or her mouth and the bottle nipple. This helps reduce the amount of air the baby sucks in.
  • Angle the bottle so that the neck of the bottle and nipple stay full of milk. This helps reduce the amount of air your baby swallows while feeding.
  • Do not prop the bottle in your baby's mouth or let him or her hold it alone. These practices deprive your baby of time when he or she should be close to you.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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