How to Bottlefeed

Get ready with this beginner's guide to bottlefeeding.
Kaysh Shinn

The Basics of the Bottle

How Much Should Baby Drink?

In general -- remember, your baby's needs may differ and change -- a baby drinks about 2 1/2 ounces of formula or breast milk a day for every pound he weighs, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As his stomach grows, he'll drink more ounces at a time. That means:

  • An 8-pound newborn drinks about 2 ounces at a time, roughly 10 times a day.
  • A 14-pound 4-month-old drinks 4 to 5 ounces at a time about six to eight times a day.
  • A 16-pound 6-month-old drinks 5 to 6 ounces at a time, roughly five times a day, in addition to eating some baby food.

How to Combine Breastfeeding and Bottlefeeding

If you want baby to both breastfeed and take a bottle, consider these tips:

  • Introduce the bottle only after breastfeeding is established, which takes at least three to four weeks.
  • Pump breast milk for the bottle. If you worry you can't express enough milk, pump all you can, then supplement with formula.
  • Have another caregiver, such as Dad or a sitter, give the bottle so that baby learns that you provide the breastfeeding.

Try This Tip: A breastfeeding mom nurses baby on one side, then the other. Changing helps baby's eyes develop equally. Do the same if you're bottlefeeding -- change which arm he leans on at each feeding.

Choosing a Bottle

Babies have preferences you can't predict. Before you start bottlefeeding, have several brands on hand, with newborn (slow-flow) nipples. Try each and let baby make the choice based on what keeps her fuss-free. The majority of bottles these days are reusable, though some have disposable plastic liners that can make cleaning easier.

Try This Tip: Prepare bottles of boiled water before you go to bed. Keep them, along with premeasured powdered formula, in your room. When baby wakes, mix one bottle of water along with the right amount of formula and bring it straight to baby.

Choosing a Formula

Parents say they choose a formula based on reputation, a doctor's advice, or price. All are valid reasons. "Start with a cow's milk-based formula," says Stephen Daniels, MD, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. It's vital that it be iron-fortified. Also, studies show that formula with the added nutrients DHA and ARA is beneficial for brain and eye development. If you think baby is reacting badly to a formula, talk to a pediatrician before switching. Often formula is wrongly blamed for normal newborn fussiness, Dr. Daniels says.

Formula comes...

  • as a powder (least expensive, most prep time)
  • concentrated (mid-priced, some prep time)
  • ready to serve (most expensive, least prep time)

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2005.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

American Baby

1 Comment

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