Whether your baby is drinking formula or breast milk in a bottle, it isn’t always a walk in the park. Once I gave birth and was figuring out the whole pumping with breast milk in the bottle gig, I was a little surprised there was actually an art to bottle feeding. While some babies are more easy when it comes to the bottle than others, if you have a difficult-to-feed baby, it can be frustrating. Learn some tips on how to best feed your baby a bottle.
1) Let Your Baby Be in Control
This is a tip I was taught by my lactation consultant. Instead of feeding your baby while he or she is in a reclined position on their back, try turning them on their side in your lap so they’re facing away from you. Take the bottle and give it to them at an angle parallel to the floor, but just ever so slightly tipped upward so the nipple is filled with milk. She told me this angle will help your baby have more control. Bottle-fed babies, she said, can be passive eaters. If you recline them on their backs the milk just dribbles into their mouths (especially with faster-flowing teats). Laying them on their side makes them actively work a drawing the milk out from the teat. Your baby is more likely to be able to determine when they’ve had enough and call it quits because they are in control. I used this method till Lilly was about one or two months old – before she became a vicious, hungry bottle eater and this simply wasn’t cutting it anymore. It’s great for newborns though!
2) Never Let a Baby Drink a Bottle Laying Flat on Their Backs
Letting a baby drink a bottle while lying flat on their back puts them at risk for an ear infection. Fluid is better able to drain from their ears when they are propped semi-upright and drinking a bottle with gravity working in their favor prevents build-up behind the eardrum.
3) Never Heat Using a Microwave
Never heat either breast milk or formula in the microwave. I’m surprised to hear a lot of people still use this trick, but most doctors will strongly advise against it. Microwaves can heat milk unevenly and create hidden and scalding hot-spots in the milk. You’re best just heating the bottle up in a bowl of hot water, under the tap, or in a bottle warmer.
4) “Bottle Mouth”
Never let your baby fall asleep with bottle of milk in their mouth, especially if they have any teeth. The sugars in whatever it is they are drinking—either breast milk or formula—can cause serious dental decay if any leftover milk is left pooled in their mouth. I have seen multiple cases of “bottle mouth” where a toddler has no front top or bottom teeth because they all rotted out from improper bottle feeding.
These are four tips that many people are not aware of when they begin to bottle feed their infant. I’m glad I learned these tips from my doctors, lactation consultants, and other literature to prevent any unnecessary damage to my bottle-drinking baby.