How to Bottle-Feed

Newborns need supportive nutrition and plenty of loving—2 things you can supply while bottle-feeding. Both human milk and formula can be given to your baby in a bottle.

Mother feeding newborn baby with bottle.

SAFETY TIP: Don’t heat human milk or formula in a microwave. This can result in uneven heating and might burn your baby’s mouth. Instead, warm the bottle by placing it in a bowl of warm water. Do not use hot water. (Hot water should never be used to heat formula or human milk because of the risk of burning the child). Test the formula on your wrist to make sure it is a warm temperature before feeding it to your baby. 

Facts on formula

Here are some facts about baby formula:

  • Baby formula can be cow milk protein-based or soy protein-based. If your family has a history of allergies, your baby’s healthcare provider may suggest a specific type of formula to use. Any formula used should include iron.

  • Ready-to-feed formula is the easiest, but it also costs the most. Brand names cost more than store brand formulas because these companies spend more money on advertising.

  • Concentrated powder and liquid formulas need to be mixed with water before using. Follow the package directions closely. Using too much or too little water may be harmful to your baby.

Hold baby and bottle

Tips on holding your baby and the bottle include:

  • Cradle your baby in your arm, holding the head slightly higher than the chest.

  • Stroke the cheek nearest to you. When your baby’s mouth opens, place the nipple on the tongue well into your baby’s mouth.

  • Tip the bottle so the nipple fills with milk. For your baby’s sake, never prop the bottle.

  • Feeding your infant can be a time of bonding and trust building. Hold your baby close to your body, make eye contact, and talk to your baby.

  • Proper positioning can decrease the chance of your baby choking 

  • Don’t let your baby fall asleep while sucking on a bottle. This can lead to tooth decay in the future.

Burping your baby

Tips on burping your baby include:

  • Burp your baby often during the feeding and when he or she is done feeding. It is easy for babies to swallow air while bottle-feeding and burping helps the baby get rid of that air.

  • Your baby can be burped sitting up while you hold the baby’s jaw, lying face-down across your lap, or with his or her belly against your shoulder.

If your baby seems hungry but isn’t eating well, you can try a different shaped nipple. You might also check the nipple opening. Some babies prefer a faster flow of milk and can be frustrated when the flow is too slow. If your baby is gagging and choking, you might need a nipple with a smaller hole, which makes the flow slower.

Bottle care

Here are suggestions for bottle care:

  • Wash your hands every time you fill or offer a bottle.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care of bottles and nipples before using them.

  • Clean used bottles and nipples with hot, soapy water. Be sure to rinse both completely.

  • Bottles can be filled up to 24 hours ahead of time, but you must keep them refrigerated until they’re used. 


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