How to Bottle Feed a Baby

Learn the ABCs of bottle feeding your newborn and make sure your baby is comfortable during feeding times with these expert-recommended bottle-feeding positions.

It's important to choose a formula that is iron-fortified. Low-iron formulas are available due to the belief that iron makes babies gassy and constipated, but studies have found this to be untrue. If there's a family history of allergies, you believe your baby is lactose intolerant, or you have other health concerns, consult your pediatrician—he or she can steer you toward the formula best suited for your child's needs. Most formulas come in a powder or concentrate form (both of which you mix with water) or ready-to-feed form (the most convenient—and expensive—option).

Your newborn will probably take between 2 and 4 ounces per feeding during his first few weeks (during the first few days, he may take less than an ounce at feedings), and will probably be hungry every two to four hours. Use this time frame as a guide only. It's best to feed your baby on demand. Don't encourage your baby to finish the bottle if he's not interested. And if he's still sucking enthusiastically when the bottle is empty, offer him more.

Best Positions for Bottle Feeding

To feed your baby, cradle her in a semi-upright position and support her head. Don't feed her lying down—formula can flow into the middle ear, causing an infection. To prevent your baby from swallowing air as she sucks, tilt the bottle so that the formula fills the neck of the bottle and covers the nipple. Here are a few of the best positions to try:

Cradle him. Place the baby's head in the crook of your arm, and your other arm around the baby or underneath him. Lift the arm with baby's head slightly so he's in a semi-upright position. You never want to feed baby when he's lying down--the formula can flow into the middle ear, causing an infection.

Sit him up. This position works well for babies with painful gas or acid reflux. Sit Baby on your lap so he's in a more upright position. Let his head rest on your chest or in the crook of your arm.

Place him in your lap. This works when you're lying or sitting down with your legs propped up. Place the baby on top of your lap, with his head resting on your knees and his feet on your stomach. This is an excellent feeding position because you and your baby are facing one another, allowing you to make plenty of eye contact.

Tilt the bottle. When feeding your infant, tilt the bottle so the milk completely fills the nipple. This decreases the amount of air that your baby is likely to take in, lessening her chances of having painful gas.

Use a Boppy. Some babies feed well when lying in a Boppy pillow. It keeps your little one's head slightly elevated and is really useful when your arms are tired. Just be sure to hold your baby's bottle for her -- you never want to prop the bottle up and leave her eating unattended.

Burping After Bottle Feeding

Babies get fussy and cranky when they swallow air during feedings because it makes them feel uncomfortably full. This happens more often with bottle-fed infants, though breastfed infants can also swallow air. The fussing can turn into a vicious circle, causing baby to swallow even more air and become even more upset.

To prevent a tummy full of air, burp your baby frequently—after every 2 or 3 ounces of formula. If your baby doesn't burp after a couple of minutes of trying, resume feeding. Here are the three best positions:

  • Over the shoulder: Drape your baby over your shoulder and firmly pat or rub her back.
  • On the lap: Sit your baby upright, lean her weight forward against the heel of your hand, and firmly pat or rub her back.
  • Lying down: Place baby stomach-down on your lap and firmly rub or pat her back.
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