Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.
How to Bottle Feed a Baby
When feeding your newborn baby for the first time, you are faced with two options: breastfeeding or bottle feeding. While many mothers choose breastfeeding, others may choose to bottle feed out of necessity or due to personal choice.
For a first time parent with a newborn, bottle feeding can seem like a challenge, especially when trying to consider what bottles or nipples to use (plus how to hold the baby or when to feed the baby).
If you should choose bottle feeding but don't know where to start, here is a guide for you with tips of how to successfully bottle feed your newborn.
Eight Bottle Feeding Tips
Here are some bottle feeding tips:
- Have a bib and burp cloth close at hand.
- Find a comfortable spot to feed the baby, like the couch or a supportive chair.
- Check the temperature of the contents of the bottle before feeding baby (newborns prefer lukewarm).
- Limit your distractions.
- Burp the baby every few ounces or so.
- If baby is prone to projectile vomiting, cover yourself and the area with a small sheet or cloth.
- Never put the newborn to sleep in the crib with a bottle.
- Expect a diaper change after the feeding, especially for newborns.
What Are the Best Baby Bottles to Use?
Before your baby is born, you should do some research about baby bottles, whether or not you know if you are going to breastfeed or bottle feed. Either way, your baby may need a bottle at some point, and you want to have at least one or two on hand until you make your decision.
There are many different types of bottles today: plastic, glass, BPA free, colic free, gas free, small, medium, and large. In addition to the different types of bottles, there are also different types of nipples: newborn, stages 1-5, natural, ones shaped like a breast, etc. Which bottles and which nipples are the best for your baby?
In reality, it depends on a few factors:
- your personal preference
- your baby's needs
- switching from breastfeeding to bottle feeding
- exclusively bottle feeding
- ease of cleaning
I personally tried out a few types of bottles with both of my children, and for me, it came down to my personal preferences and price. I liked the idea of BPA free bottles that were smaller for newborns (about 4-5 oz.) and had great reviews from other parents.
Here's a few things you may want to consider:
- For a newborn born without complications who may need formula supplementation even though he or she is breastfeeding, a bottle with a natural, breast-like nipple would be the best choice.
- For a exclusively bottle fed baby, any smaller bottle with a newborn flow nipple will suffice.
- For a baby with reflux or colic, a gas reducing bottle (those with a tilted format or a valve) will help with feedings.
- For a preemie, a smaller bottle with a special preemie nipple (often given in the NICU) or a slow-flow nipple will help with feedings.
Again, it mostly comes down to your personal preference and what works for you and your baby.
Best Baby Bottles
Best baby bottle brands in the United States:
- Dr. Browns
- Tommy Tippee
The Best Baby Bottle: Avent
My favorite baby bottles would have to be the Classic Avent baby bottles made by Phillips. These bottles fit all of my preferences, and then some!
Here's what I like about them:
- The bottles come in different sizes for the various feeding stages.
- Bottles are BPA-free.
- Nipples are BPA-free.
- Nipples come in a variety of flow levels, from newborn all the way up to toddler.
- Bottles and nipples are easy to clean and store.
- Bottles are ergonomic and easy for both parent and baby to hold.
- Bottle helps with gas intake by the baby.
- Bottles and nipples are affordable.
- Bottles and nipples last and are well made.
- Bottles can be attached to the Avent breast pumps and used for storage.
Here's what I dislike:
- Some of the classic bottles require an extra valve piece that fits on the bottle before the nipple goes on. I keep these on the side as extra bottles.
- Some of the slow-flow nipples are just too slow. To fix things, I just bought the next stage nipple. Not a big deal, but a bit of extra money was spent.
I used these bottles with my first two babies and I intend to use them again for my next baby. I have recommended them to my expecting friends, who have added these bottles and accessories to their baby gift registries.
On a rating scale of five stars, I give Avent bottles all five stars! These bottles are worth their price as they are durable, easy to clean, BPA-free, and easy to use.
How to Bottle Feed a Newborn Baby
Once you have chosen the baby bottle you will use for your newborn, the next step is learning to feed the baby. I find that it comes down to two things:
- Your comfort level as you feed the baby.
- Holding the baby in the right position.
Making sure you are comfortable while feeding the baby is vital for your patience and your body. If you are not comfortable during the feeding (which could last up to an hour), you're going to become impatient which is unfair to the baby. Find a comfortable couch or chair, and support your back with pillows. sit up straight, and use a baby feeding pillow like a Boppy to keep the baby close to you.
When you bottle feed your baby, you want to do everything possible to make sure that the baby is getting the contents of the bottle without taking in air. To do this, you need to hold the baby at a slight angle, with his or her head higher than the rest of the body. One of your arms will support the baby's body while the other will hold the bottle in the baby's mouth. You also want to hold the bottle at a slight angle to make sure the contents of the bottle fill the nipple and no air is taken in.
If the baby is hungry, he or she will eagerly take in the nipple and start sucking. If the baby needs to eat but seems less willing, then you need to do some prompting. Gently rub the cheek of the baby closest to you. The baby may turn his or her head to you with an open mouth, at which point you can offer the bottle. You can also put the nipple on the baby's upper lip right under the nose (being careful not to spill the contents of the bottle) which will encourage the baby to open wide.
Sometimes, newborns fall asleep during a feeding. If your baby seems content and full, it is okay to allow him or her to sleep. This can become a problem, however, when the baby drinks half an ounce and then nods off. To keep the baby awake, gently remove pieces of clothing: socks, hat, shirt, pants, onesie. This often keeps the baby awake enough so that he or she will feed.
Tip: Try not to be distracted with the TV, your phone, or laptop while bottle feeding your baby. Bottle feeding can be a great time to bond with your baby by looking into his or her eyes while talking or singing. Even though he or she is so young and doesn't seem to respond yet, you can still make a great connection!
How Much Formula to Feed Baby
- At birth, a newborn make take an ounce or two of formula at a time.
- As the days go on, the ounces increase to about 2-3 oz. per feeding every 2-3 hours.
- At one month, most babies will consume about 4-6 oz. per feeding every 3-5 hours.
- At six months, most babies will eat about 6-8 oz. per feeding every 4 hours or so.
How much and how often depends on the baby and his or her size and requirements.
Bottle Feeding Babies
As with everything else related to newborns, bottle feeding newborns will take time and experience. Be patient, do your research about bottles, and get ready to feed your new baby.
In time, you can be a bottle feeding professional, with a smiling, content baby in your arms.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Dandi Daffyhill on September 05, 2015:
These are some great tips--I have to supplement with a bottle.
vandynegl from Ohio Valley on March 12, 2014:
This is helpful information for the new mom! Looking at what you suggested took me back to my "early mom" days! I chose to breast feed early, then begin supplementing with a bottle. I also chose Avent bottles for affordability and BPA free. The nipple sizes were frustrating at first, and like you said, the slow one was REALLY slow! I also found that there was a trick to tightening the lid.....if it was tightened too much, it leaked! The only thing I would recommend for new moms and bottle feeding, is to not fret too much when their baby doesn't always finish the bottle. Often, my first would fall asleep at the bottle! I would get worried when he was "supposed" to have 4 ounces of the bottle, but only made it to 3. He was always a healthy weight and I really didn't have much to worry about.
Anyway, you have great information here and it helps that new parents research before buying!
moonlake from America on March 11, 2014:
Great information. We went through so many bottles, nipples and formula with our son. We tried everything and found out that he was allergic to milk and soy milk. He was one of those babies that drink half an ounce and noded off. We kept in constant contact with doctors trying to figure out his problem. At that time not much was known about babies being allergic to milk. I finally figured it out when I would hear mucus after he would drink milk. I told the doctor and ask if it could be an allergy, that's when formulas started being changed. They finally found one he could tolerate.
He made it he's 40 now.
Marissa (author) from United States on November 29, 2012:
tillsontitan, I'm glad you found this hub useful! It's true: we experienced mothers may take these things for granted when we know as new mothers we too had no clue about babies and baby care. It all comes eventually with time and experience.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Mary Craig from New York on November 28, 2012:
Sometimes the things we as mothers, take for granted, others know nothing about. You've written a hub that is sure to be helpful to new mothers making decisions they've never made before.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Marissa (author) from United States on November 27, 2012:
photographybyar, thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing! I'm glad you found this to be helpful, and I hope it gives your friend some useful suggestions. :)
Amber Renee from Bakersfield, California on November 27, 2012:
I don't have a baby but I have a friend who was just discussing this same topic the other day... I will definitely forward the info to her. You did a great job at writing this hub and getting people some really useful information! Great job!
Marissa (author) from United States on November 27, 2012:
jpmc, thank you for your kind words! Choosing the right bottle and nipple is really important, especially for newborns. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on November 27, 2012:
This is a very useful and informative hub my friend. New parents will really appreciate this. When we had our baby Yna, my wife opted for breastfeeding. Today she does mix feeding.
Choosing the right bottle especially the nipple is important. The size and texture is paramount to bottle feeding.
Voted up and shared. Great job!