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How to Bottle-Feed Your Baby

baby drinking bottle of milk

PhotoAlto/ Matton

Sterilize the bottle. Before you use a newly purchased bottle, place all parts in boiling water for five minutes.

Heat it up. If your baby prefers warm milk, place the prepared bottle in a pot of hot water for a few minutes before offering it to him. Stir the milk to make sure there are no hot spots, then test a drop or two on the inside of your wrist. Never heat a bottle in the microwave. If you're looking for a more convenient heating method, invest in a bottle warmer.

Get in position. Cradle your baby in your arms as you would if you were breastfeeding. Make eye contact and talk to your baby in a soothing tone throughout the meal.

Tilt the bottle. Hold the bottle so that milk covers the entire nipple. This will reduce the amount of air your baby takes in and help prevent gas.

Follow your baby's lead. There's no recommended amount of liquid for each feeding. Some babies will drink half an ounce, while others will drink 3 or 4; babies may also drink different amounts at each feeding. Your baby will let you know whether she wants more or less at each meal.

Know when Baby wants more. If he's still focused on her food, sucking at a steady rate at the end of a bottle, or if he continues to give off hunger signals (such as bringing his hands to his mouth or smacking his lips), prepare a few more ounces.

Recognize when she's finished. If she pushes the nipple out with her tongue, turns her head away from the bottle, slows her sucking, or would prefer to look around rather than drink, she's probably full. Other signs include arching her back or putting her hands in front of her mouth. Once the mealtime is over, discard any liquid left in the bottle.

Introduce a breastfed baby to the bottle. Wait until breastfeeding is well established (generally between 4 and 6 weeks) before bottle-feeding your baby, and choose a time when your baby is hungry, but not famished--if she's too hungry, she'll get frustrated by being introduced to something unfamiliar. If you can use pumped breast milk, that's one less thing your baby will have to get used to. If she isn't opening up, put a couple of drops of milk on the nipple and bring it to your baby's lips to entice her.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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