Get ready with this beginner's guide to bottlefeeding.
bottle feeding
Credit: 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 2-3 ounces of formula per feeding (every three to four hours on average during her first few weeks), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfed infants usually take smaller, more frequent feedings than formula-fed infants. As his stomach grows, he'll drink more ounces at a time. That means:

  • A 1 to 3-month-old about 5 ounces of milk about six to eight times a day.
  • A 6-month-old drinks six-eight ounces at a time, roughly four-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 should nurse 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, M.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. It's vital that it be iron-fortified. Formula has added nutrients DHA and ARA to benefit Baby's brain and eye development. If you think your 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)