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Bottle-Feeding - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

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 could be close to you. This may also increase the risks of choking, tooth decay, and ear infection.

During the first few weeks, burp your baby after every 2 fl oz (60 mL) of formula. This helps get rid of swallowed air, reducing the chances of your baby spitting up. Most babies need less frequent burping as they get older.

You will know your baby is full when he or she stops sucking continuously. Usually, as babies get full, they pause frequently during feeding. Also, your baby may spit out the nipple, turn his or her head away, or fall asleep when full. Throw away any formula left in the bottle after you have fed your baby, because bacteria can grow in the leftover formula.

Feeding is a good time for social contact with your baby, so don't rush. Look into your baby's eyes and talk or sing while you are giving the bottle. This contact helps your baby feel close to you and is important for healthy growth and development. Wear a short-sleeved shirt to give more skin-to-skin contact. Sit in a comfortable chair with your arms supported on pillows.

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