Basics of Bottle Feeding An Infant - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

Basics of Bottle Feeding An Infant

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 26 Nov 2014 - 14:24.

Bottle feeding either with expressed breast milk or formula milk should be considered as a last resort, unless compelled by genuine reasons. Bottle feeding of expressed breast milk is usually practiced by working mothers. Bottle feeding with formula milk is resorted to either as a step to gradually wean the child from breastfeeding or when there is complete switch from breastfeeding to formula milk. In some cases where there is inadequate production and short supply of breast milk, the mother is compelled to supplement the baby’s requirements with formula milk.

Bottle feeds also have set pattern and every mother should be aware about the basics of bottle feeds. It is important to know the basics:

  • Hospital born babies are usually fed shortly after delivery and thereafter on demands by the baby.
  • During the first week after birth, babies take one or two ounces at a time gradually increasing to 3 or 4 ounces given roughly 6 to 8 times in a day by the time the child is 2 weeks old.
  • Forcing the baby to complete the bottle is not the right approach. Ideally the baby should be encouraged to take as much as she/he likes, whenever they are hungry.
  • As the infants grow, the consumption quantity increases up to 6 to 8 ounces at a time, by 3 or 4 months of age.
  • It is important to observe proper position of the baby during bottle feeds. The ideal position is semi-reclining or a sitting up one.
  • Never give bottle-feed when the child is lying flat on the back for the simple reason that milk may gush into the nose or the Eustachian tube.
  • Older infants who are able to hold their own bottles should not be put to sleep holding the bottle because continuous exposure of the milk or juice can damage their teeth and lead to formation of cavities.
  • To facilitate mothers, commercial baby formulas containing a proper balance of nutrients, calories and vitamins are available in ready- to-feed, sterile bottles. Also available are cans of concentrated formula and the mother only needs to dilute with water and powder as per specifications displayed prominently.
  • Formulas are available both with and without iron supplements depending on the need for iron supplements for the infant.
  • Most doctors prescribe formula which contains iron supplements.
  • Parents who use concentrated formulas or powders must carefully follow the directions for preparations on the containers.
  • Formulas are generally made from cow’s milk.
  • Some babies cannot tolerate cow’s milk due to food allergies, in which case soy-based formulas which benefit the infants are available in the market.
  • Whether you use cow’s milk or soy-based formula, there is no long-term health difference. However, it should be remembered that pure cow’s milk is not an appropriate food during the first year of life.
  • Bottle feeds could expose the child to microorganisms. To avoid, the formula must be fed in a sterile container.
  • Disposable plastic liners eliminate the need to sterilize the bottles.
  • Nipples in the bottles must be sterilized in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.
  • Formula feeds must be warmed to body temperature.
  • If disposable sterile containers are used, it is important to place them in a container with warm water so that they are allowed to come to body temperature.
  • First check the temperature of the milk by placing a few drops on the sensitive skin inside their wrist.
  • Formula foods at body temperature should neither feel warm nor cold to touch.
  • Never ever try to warm up formula foods in a microwave for we never know when it gets dangerously overheated.
  • The size of the opening in the rubber nipples is very important. The yardstick for the correct size is, an opening which allows milk to drip slowly out of the bottle when held upside down.
  • The opening can be slightly larger for older infants wanting larger quantities of milk.

Importance of the size of the opening in the rubber nipple

The author witnessed a practical demonstration of how a large opening in the rubber nipple can lead to regurgitation of milk causing untold misery to both the infant and the worried mother. Noted pediatrician Dr.P.M.Udani demonstrated a case in which a young infant constantly regurgitated whenever milk was given with a bottle. The anxious mother unable to judge the cause, ultimately the patient was shown to Dr.Udani who demonstrated the trick on the opening of the nipple.

He asked the mother to feed the infant in his presence which she did and instantly the baby regurgitated the milk. Dr.Udani then changed the nipple with a smaller opening and the baby drank the whole quantity happily without wasting even a drop of milk.

The mistake was she always made a larger hole in the nipple with a belief that more milk can flow. It is therefore important to have the correct size of the opening in the rubber nipple for smooth flow of milk. If very small, there may be hindrance in the flow of milk. If large, the baby may regurgitate the milk as in the case demonstrated.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.