Newborn Basics: Bottlefeeding

Learn the ABCs of bottlefeeding your newborn.


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).

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.

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.


Babies get fussy and cranky when they swallow air during feedings because it makes them feel uncomfortably full. This happens more often with bottlefed 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:

1. Over the shoulder: Drape your baby over your shoulder and firmly pat or rub her back.

2. On the lap: Sit your baby upright, lean her weight forward against the heel of your hand, and firmly pat or rub her back.

3. Lying down: Place baby stomach-down on your lap and firmly rub or pat her back.

Reviewed 11/00 by Jane Forester, MD

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


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