Bottle Feeding

Preparing and Storing Bottle Feeds

When preparing your baby's milk, start off with thoroughly washed hands, and sterilised equipment, which includes bottles, teats, retaining rings, lids and tongs. Babies' bottles need to be sterilised until they are at least a year old (see our article on Sterilising for how to do this). Before you start making your baby's bottle, make sure you have disinfected your work surface.

  1. Use freshly boiled tap water for your baby's feed. Bottled water and water that has been artificially softened aren't suitable for your baby. After boiling tap water, leave it to cool down for 20-30 minutes before using it, but don't leave for longer than 30 minutes, as it won't be hot enough to kill any bacteria in the milk powder.
  2. Read the instructions on the packet of your milk powder to see how much water you need and how many scoops of powder to put in. Put the water in first, followed by the powder, to ensure you get the powder to water ratio right. Use a sterilised knife, or the leveller provided in the packet to level off the powder on the scoop. It's important to put the correct amount of powder in as too little will leave your baby hungry and too much milk powder will make them dehydrated. Don't be tempted to put more powder in than the manufacturer's instructions, to fill your baby up, as if the milk is too concentrated it will damage their health.
  3. Use sterilised tongs to fit the teat onto the retaining ring, and then screw the ring onto the bottle. Put a sterilised cap on it and shake it up and down until the powder has completely dissolved. Before you feed the milk to your baby, make sure that it's not too hot by tipping a few drops onto the inside of your wrist; it should feel warm but not hot. If it is too hot, put it under the cold tap until it's cool enough and check it again before you give it to your baby.

Preparing Ready-Made Milk

Formula milk can be bought ready-made in cartons or plastic containers. These are very convenient but do work out more expensive than buying powder formula that you make up yourself. If you're using ready-made formula milk, wash your hands and work surface, and then all you need to do is use a sterilised pair of scissors to open the packet and pour it into a sterilised bottle. The milk doesn't need to be warmed up, but if your baby prefers it like this, then you can warm it up by placing it in a bowl of hot water. Don't put it in the microwave, as this can cause hot spots which can burn your baby's mouth.

Preparing Feeds When You're Out and About

There are various options available to you to feed your baby when you're out and about. You can use pre-made formula milk, which you just pour into your baby's bottle, but as these are expensive so you might not want to rely on them every time you go out. Another option is to fill a thermos with freshly boiled tap water, and measure out the right amount of formula powder into a sterilised airtight container. The water will stay hot for 4 hours in a thermos, so just mix these two together into a sterilised bottle when your baby needs feeding. Although it's healthier for your baby to make up a fresh feed every time they need feeding, if you do make up a bottle of formula milk at home to take out with you, cool it in the fridge before you leave, and then keep it as fresh as possible by putting it in a cool bag with an ice pack in it. Use it within 4 hours, and throw away any milk not consumed after 4 hours.

Storing Bottle Feeds

Formula that you buy ready-made can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours, because pre-mixed milk is sterile, but formula that you've mixed yourself with powder and water shouldn't be kept for longer than an hour. You should always make a fresh feed for your baby, and throw away unfinished feeds as they could make your baby ill if you use them later on. This is because powder milk isn't sterile, and formula milk that you've mixed yourself grows bacteria in it at room temperature, and this bacteria will continue growing even when the milk is put back in the fridge.

Bottled breast milk can be stored in the fridge for 5 days at a temperature of 5 degrees or cooler.

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.