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Feeding Baby

Start breastfeeding

In the UK, more than 73% of mothers make the decision to start breastfeeding when their baby is born.


The advantages of this are:

  • Your breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby and available at all times

  • Breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases

  • Breastfeeding provides health benefits for you too

  • Breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby


Breastfeeding exclusively (giving your baby no other food or drink) is recommended for around the first six months. After this, breastfeeding is recommended alongside solid food. Therefore, it's likely that you'll be breastfeeding if you decide to return to work, training or education. The following advice can help you to continue providing for your baby:


  • Arrange for childcare close to work or college, so that you can breastfeed during breaks, or before and after work.

  • Express breast milk (taking milk from the breast by hand or using a pump) so that someone else can feed your baby while you're at work.

  • Combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding to fit around your hours.

If you are bottle-feeding

You will need a number of bottles and teats, as well as sterilising equipment. There's no evidence that one type of teat or bottle is better than any other. But as hygiene is so important, simple bottles that are easy to wash and sterilise are probably best. Some bottles also are shaped to ensure milk-flow is consistent and to avoid air bubbles which cause wind for baby and colic. So ask around and read reviews of baby bottles to make your decision.


Preparing bottle feeds

Make sure your bottles and teats are sterilised. If you're using infant formula, pay close attention to the instructions on the packet when you make up the feed as the making it too weak will not give baby the meal he/she needs and using too much powder can make the formula too heavy for baby.


How often should I feed my baby?

As with breastfeeding, most experts agree that you shouldn't follow a rigid schedule in the early weeks, though you may be able to work out an approximate pattern for feeding within a month or so. Offer a bottle every two to three hours at first, or as your baby seems hungry.

When your baby is about a month old, he/she will be ready to eat on a schedule. Formula-fed infants tend to be heavier than breastfed babies, so following a feeding schedule can help prevent them from overeating.

Feed your baby once every three to four hours. Don't force your baby to take more than they seem ready to eat.


How to make up bottles of formula milk safely

  • Boil a kettle of freshly run water. Don't use softened or repeatedly boiled water. If you have to use bottled water, first make sure that the sodium (or Na) is less that 200mg per litre and the sulphate is less than 250mg per litre. You should also boil it first.

  • Let it cool but do not allow it to cool for more than 30 minutes before putting it in the bottle. The water must still be hot (at least 70C) when the formula milk is added to otherwise any bacteria in the powder may not be destroyed.

  • Always add the formula powder to the water, not the water to the powder.

  • Be careful when pouring water from the kettle because even at 70C it's still hot enough to scald.

  • Fill the bottle to the correct level (as specified on the formula packet or container).

  • Using the scoop provided, loosely fill it with milk powder and level it off using a clean, dry knife.

  • Add the number of scoops specified on the formula container to the water in the bottle.

  • Hold the edge of the teat, put it on to the bottle, screw the retaining ring into place and cover the teat with the cap.

  • Shake the bottle until all the powder has dissolved.

  • Always test the temperature of the feed by dropping a little of the milk onto the inside of your wrist before you feed it to your baby - it should be body temperature, so shouldn't feel too cold or hot.

  • If it's too hot, cool the feed by holding the bottle - with the cap still covering the teat - under cold running water.

  • Throw away any milk that hasn't been used within two hours. 


How to bottle feed your baby    

Make sure you are sitting comfortably. Enjoy holding your baby and looking into their eyes as you feed them. Bottle feeding is a chance to feel close to your baby and get to know them.


Hold your baby fairly upright for bottle feeds. Support their head so they can breathe and swallow comfortably. Brush the teat against your baby's lips and, when your they open their mouth wide, let them draw in the teat.  


When bottle feeding, keep the teat full of milk, otherwise your baby will take in air. If the teat becomes flattened while you're feeding, gently poke a clean finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to release the suction. If the teat gets blocked, replace it with another sterile teat.


Winding your baby

Your baby may need short breaks during the feed and may need to burp sometimes. When your baby does not want any more feed, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to bring up any wind. This may only be a small amount.

Don't forget to throw away any unused formula or breast milk after you have finished feeding your baby.

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