Safety and hygiene when bottle-feeding
We all know breast is best, but if, at some point, you're weaning baby onto bottles, you'll need these safety and hygiene tips.
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First off, please know that breastfeeding doesn't just provide optimal protection against harmful viruses and bacteria, it improves your baby's IQ, it's always sterile, and it's free.

But we also realise that there are moms who, for whatever reason, cannot breastfeed: most adoptive moms, those who have had mastectomies, etc. This information is published to try and improve the health of your baby when you're bottle-feeding.

Bottle-feeding:

  • Wash your hands well with soap before touching the storage bags or bottles.
  • Boil the kettle and fill each sterilised bottle to the required level. Put the teat in upside down and seal with the disc and ring provided to keep it sterile, or seal with the cap provided. Refrigerate all bottles immediately.
  • To make a bottle, take one out of the fridge at a time. Using only the scoop provided in the formula tin, fill with powdered milk and level it off. Don’t pack the milk down in the scoop or the feed will be too concentrated. Check the manufacturer’s instructions and add the correct number of scoops to the bottle (usually one scoop per 25ml of water)
  • Put the disc and ring or cap back on and shake the bottle until all the milk has dissolved and the milk is completely mixed. Check that there are no undissolved lumps that could block the teat
  • Warm the bottle to room temperature in a jug of hot water or bottle warmer(preferably not in the microwave as it heats the milk unevenly and could create hot spots)
  • Check the temperature by letting a few drops of milk drip onto the inside of your wrist, where it should feel lukewarm
  • Lay your baby in the cradle of your arm in a semi-upright position and let baby latch on. As she sucks, keep the bottle tilted so that the teat fills with milk, not air. After your baby has been sucking for a while, the teat may go flat. Pull on the bottle slightly to let the teat fill up again. If she fusses the teat may be dripping too slowly or too fast
  • Burp baby halfway through the feed or if she lets go of the teat and fusses, as well as at the end of a feed. Bring up wind by holding baby against your shoulder or sitting upright on your lap with your hand under chin, and gently rubbing or patting her back for a couple of minutes
  • After feeds, rinse out the bottle immediately. Wash with hot soapy water and a bottle brush to ensure that all milk residues are eliminated. Scrub the teat with coarse salt to remove milk deposits. Rinse bottles well and sterilise in a steam or microwave steriliser or sterilising solution

Here are some important dos and don'ts:

  • Never be tempted to make the feed a bit thicker or stronger to encourage your baby to sleep for longer. This will only dehydrate your baby and make her ill.
  • Formula shouldn’t be made weaker, either – baby will be hungry and will not gain weight. The cost of formula must be considered and budgeted for before making the decision not to breastfeed.
  • Be scrupulous about keeping the bottlefeeding equipment sterilised. Washing bottles with lukewarm soapy water and a bottle brush is as important as sterilizing.
  • Boiling bottles, teats and feeding equipment is one of the best methods of sterilizing – remember, all equipment must be fully immersed. You can also buy special sterilising units, some of which work in the microwave, and there are sterilising solutions, too.
  • Never carry around made up bottles of formula – especially during summer – as harmful bacteria can rapidly develop.
  • Check that the flow of milk is coming out at a steady 2 to 3 drops per second. You may have to try different teats before your baby is happy. If the teat collapses, you may have screwed the ring on too tightly. Loosening it will help
  • Never “prop” feed your baby (leaving your baby alone to suck on her bottle, or propping the bottle up with a towel or nappy). It can result in choking, and increases the rate of ear infections.

Did you know?

  • Never feed a young baby cow’s milk – this may only be introduced after 1 year.

The cost of formula must be considered and budgeted for before making the decision not to breastfeed.

  1. Before starting with a formula, ask your healthcare provider for advice.
  2. It’s important to use a formula designed for a new baby. Choosing the right formula can be confusing, so be guided by your midwife, Stork’s Nest sister or paediatrician.
  3. Never feed a young baby cow’s milk, or milk products other than infant formula.
  4. If you are unhappy about the type or the brand and you want to change, first get advice from your healthcare provider as chopping and changing can upset your baby’s delicate digestive system.
  5. Never be tempted to make the feed a bit thicker or stronger to encourage your baby to sleep for longer. This will only dehydrate your baby and make her ill. Formula shouldn’t be made weaker, either – baby will go hungry and won’t gain weight.
  6. Be scrupulous about keeping the bottle-feeding equipment sterilised. Washing bottles with lukewarm soapy water and a bottle brush is as important as sterilising. Boiling bottles, teats and feeding equipment is one of the best methods of sterilising – remember, all equipment must be fully immersed. You can also sterilise bottles in special sterilising units, some of which work in the microwave, or by immersing the equipment in sterilising solutions.
  7. Never carry around made-up bottles of formula – especially during summer – as harmful bacteria can rapidly develop.
  8. Throw away any leftover milk. Never reheat or re-use formula milk.
  9. Check that the flow of milk is coming out at a steady 2 to 3 drops per second. You may have to try different teats before your baby is happy. If the teat collapses, you may have screwed the ring on too tightly. Loosening it will help.
  10. Never “prop” feed your baby (leaving your baby alone to suck on her bottle, or propping the bottle up with a towel or nappy). It can result in choking, and it also increases the rate of ear infections.

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