You may notice a pattern within four to eight weeks, but most experts agree that you shouldn’t follow a rigid feeding schedule in the early weeks.
Don’t force feed, but offer your breast or the bottle every two to three hours in the beginning or as your baby shows signs of hunger. Until your child reaches about 10 pounds, she’ll probably take one to three ounces per feeding. Your baby’s doctor should advise you about suitable amounts for your child as she grows.
Do I need to sterilize the bottles?
You shouldn’t need to sterilize your bottles, nipples, and rings every time unless you have well water. In that case, it’s probably best to continue proper sterilization. Generally, you should only sterilize them before the first use. Submerge them in a pot of boiling water for at least five minutes. Allow them to air dry on a clean towel. After that, a good cleaning in hot, soapy water or a cycle through the dishwasher is sufficient.
Minimize exposure to harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A. Sometimes found in plastic bottles, these chemicals are released when heated (such as when boiled, heated in the microwave, or when washed in the dishwasher) and may end up in your baby’s milk.
Bottle-feeding gear, such as bottle drying racks and dishwasher baskets can be found at most baby supply stores. Research which bottle is right for you and when to replace nipples.
Can I mix breast milk and formula?
There’s nothing wrong with mixing breast milk and formula in the same container. However, it’s not recommended simply because you don’t want to waste a single drop of your precious breast milk if you’re pumping and supplementing with formula. Instead, feed your baby whatever breast milk you’ve expressed, and then follow that up with an ounce or two of formula if she wants or needs more. Find out more.
What’s the best way to warm a bottle?
There’s no health reason to heat the milk first, but your baby may prefer it. When you’re ready to feed your baby, you can heat up the bottle in a bowl of warm – not hot or boiling – water, or by running it under the warm tap water. You can also buy a bottle warmer designed for this purpose.
If your baby is accustomed to drinking bottles at room temperature or slightly cold, you save yourself the time and hassle of preheating bottles. This is especially useful when she’s crying to be fed.
Never use a microwave to heat a bottle of breast milk or formula. A microwave heats unevenly and can create hot pockets that may lead to burns. High temperatures can also cause nutrients to break down.
How can I make sure my baby is drinking comfortably?
Listen and observe your baby as she eats. If you hear a lot of noisy sucking sounds while she drinks, she may be taking in too much air. To help your baby swallow less air, hold her at a 45-degree angle and tilt the bottle so that the nipple and neck are always filled with breast milk or formula and not air pockets.
Never prop a bottle as this can cause your baby to choke. Besides, bottle-feeding, like breastfeeding, can be a wonderful time for nurturing your baby by holding her close. Use this feeding time as an opportunity to snuggle and bond with your baby.