Some mums choose to combine breast with formula feeding (mixed feeding). Others find that expressing breast milk and feeding using a bottle can be handy and can give their partner the chance to get involved with feeds. And some mums will (for whatever reason) switch to an infant formula completely.
Whatever you choose, this section will help you prepare yourself and your baby for the introduction of a bottle and explain why introducing formula feeding can be a decision that is difficult to reverse. We'll also look at the practical considerations, like what equipment you'll need, how to sterilise and prepare bottles and how much and how often your baby should feed.
Many mums who choose mixed feeding say it offers the best of both worlds. Their baby still gets the benefits of breast feeds, yet it gives mums more freedom to bottle feed if they need to be away from their babies.
Many women will express and store enough breast milk to give to their babies via a bottle for when they are unable to breast feed.
For women who are unable to express and store enough breast milk to meet their baby's requirements, they may choose to combine breast feeding and some formula feeding.
Mixed feeding can also enable your partner to be more involved in feeding, especially with night feeds. However dads can be more involved in many other aspects of baby care.
It's important to realise that the less your baby breastfeeds, or if you do not express breast milk, the less breast milk your body will produce and it can be difficult to switch back to breast feeding once you've introduced formula.
If milk is not regularly removed from the breast and remains static, your body will produce less milk. Babies are also more effective at removing milk than most commercial pumps or hand expressing, although these are still workable solutions. The point is, that to ensure good supply there is nothing better than a baby put to the breast and allowed to feed on their individual hunger cues.
Mixed feeding is a big decision and one that should not be taken without consulting your health care professional first.
Mixed feeding should not be considered until breast feeding is well established - as a guide, this is usually around six to eight weeks but some women will have to introduce a bottle earlier, in which case it is advised to avoid introduction until your baby is 3-4 weeks old. This is because it takes several weeks for your supply to build up and demand feeding an infant is the best way to ensure a good milk supply is established.
If feeding from a bottle is introduced before you've established breast feeding, you can reduce your milk production and your baby may develop a preference for bottle feeding and give up on breast feeding altogether.
Introducing a bottle after three months of age may be met with bottle refusal by some babies. While many of these babies can adjust after a period of time to taking a bottle, some may not and alternate means of feeding (i.e. cup) will be necessary. Most health care professionals agree however that overcoming bottle refusal is easier than the potential problems that can arise if a bottle is introduced too early.
Introducing formula is a big decision both physically and emotionally. For some infants it can be difficult to introduce a bottle as they are used to being breast fed. Once babies are on formula and the change has been made, it can be difficult to reverse, particularly if breast milk is not being expressed to maintain supply. Make sure you have spoken with your health care professional about the decision to move from breast feeding to formula feeding first.
It can take time to work out a mixed feeding routine that both you and your baby are comfortable with, so try to be patient. If you'd like some advice on mixed feeding speak to your health care professional, or give one of our team a call on 1800 438 500 or contact us on LiveChat.
Whether you are bottle feeding with expressed breast milk or formula, not all breast fed babies switch to bottles easily in the beginning. If your baby is not taking to the bottle, try:
Make sure you have all the equipment you need: bottles, teats, sterilisers etc, and carefully read the instructions for making up your feeds.
Some babies take longer to adjust to bottle feeding than others but there are things you can try, such as:
Be sure your baby gets the same amount of one-to-one, nurturing and cuddly time with you and a bottle as they did with you and the breast. Babies love the closeness of breast feeding. So if you're bottle feeding, you can encourage bonding by giving your baby lots of skin contact when feeding. Talk to them, sing to them and make plenty of eye contact with them too.
It can take time to work out a mixed feeding routine that both you and your baby are comfortable with, so try to be patient. If you'd like some advice on combination feeding speak to your health care professional, or give one of our team a call on 1800 438 500 or call us on LiveChat.
Before you begin bottle feeding you'll need to buy:
Your baby's immune system is still immature, especially if your baby is under six months old. Sterilising feeding equipment is therefore important. The equipment required depends on the sterilising method you have chosen. There are three ways to sterilise your baby's feeding equipment:
Before you sterilise bottles and teats, ensure you clean the bottles and teats thoroughly using warm soapy water and scrub them with a bottle-cleaning brush (you could also put them through the dishwasher).
If you choose to formula feed your baby, there are many formula choices available from different brands. Whilst each provides adequate nutrition for infants there are differences between the types and amounts of ingredients used. Consult your health care professional before introducing a formula and talk about how to choose an appropriate formula for your baby.
If you have any questions about bottle feeding equipment, give our expert team of health care professionals a call on 1800 438 500. Or chat to us online with our instant messaging service, LiveChat.
Making up a bottle feed isn't difficult but, as with doing anything new, it can take a bit of practice. That's why we've put together our step-by-step guide to preparing a bottle feed. Have a read through online or print it out and keep it to hand, so you can refer to it until you've got the hang of things.
Remember, if you'd like any more help on preparing a bottle feed, you can always give our advisors a call on 1800 438 500.
Your baby's immune system is still developing so keeping your baby's feeding equipment clean and sterile is very important. There are a number of safe ways to sterilise infant feeding equipment. Bottles and teats should always be cleaned first to ensure no traces of milk or milk residue remain.
Electric steamers sterilise bottles in 8-12 minutes. They leave no unpleasant smell or taste but are not suitable for all equipment (check the manufacturer's instructions before sterilising in an electric steamer). It is important to ensure the openings of the bottles and teats are facing downwards in the steriliser and that the manufacturer's instructions are followed.
Steam sterilising units create steam in the microwave which sterilises bottles and teats in 8-10 minutes.
It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions, especially concerning the correct amount of water to use.
This method is not suitable for glass bottles, as glass retains heat and can become extremely hot in the time it takes to sterilise. Teats should be placed upright not laid flat, as this allows the steam to circulate to all areas of the teat.
To sterilise a bottle by boiling, completely submerge all the feeding equipment in boiling water for five minutes. The water should cool before taking the equipment out and then shake off excess water.
Using an approved sterilisation tablet (prepare the sterilising solution according to the manufacturer's instructions) takes about 30 minutes and is highly effective. The solution should be made up in a plastic container. It is important that the bottles and teats are fully submerged in the container (no air gaps). The bottles can stay sterilised in the water for up to 24 hours.
If you'd like any more tips on sterilising your equipment safely, feel free to give our advisors a call on 1800 438 500 or call us on LiveChat.
The table below provides a guide to how much and often you should feed your baby, relative to their age. If your baby is premature or was born at a low birth weight, their feeding requirements will be different. Your health care professional will be able to advise you if you are at all unsure.
|Age||Approximate quantity of formula per feed||Number of feeds per day|
|Up to 1 week||50mL||7 - 9|
|1 week to 1 month||100mL||6 - 8|
|1 to 2 months||150mL||5 - 6|
|2 to 4 months||200mL||5|
|4 to 6 months||250mL||4 - 5|
|6 to 9 months||250mL||3 - 4|
|9 to 12 months||200mL||3 - 4|
If you're trying to gauge how long your baby is feeding for, and how long they are going between feeds, time feeds from the moment they start until the beginning of the next feed.
If you have any questions about your baby's feeding habits, you can call our expert team on 1800 438 500. Or chat to us online with our instant messaging service, LiveChat .