Bottle Feeding 101
Ideally, most bottles come in two sizes: smaller size ones around 5oz for newborns who tend to eat little and bigger sized ones around 9oz for older babies who start to eat more.
Bottles typically come with at least four basic parts: the nipple for the baby to suck on, a collar that screws the nipple in place, a travel cover/lid and the bottle itself. Most bottles are made from these four different materials: plastic, stainless steel, silicone, and glass.
Most brands offer several compatible nipples/teats with different milk flow rates: slow flow for newborns so they don’t gulp too much and fast flow for older babies and variable flow where you can adjust the flow rate by simply turning the bottle. We do have a variety of teats here, check them out if interested.
One of the most common questions amongst new moms is When is the right time to introduce my baby to bottle feeding? Well, there’s no right time to do so, you could start right from day one, wait until they’re at least six weeks old or when they are a pro at nursing. The problem with bottle feeding your baby too early is that they’ll get used to the bottle due to instant gratification as milk flows quickly compared to when they are suckling the breasts and they may, in turn, have a difficulty breastfeeding.
Accessories needed to make bottle feeding easier include bottle brushes for cleaning, feeding bibs, nipples/teats, travel caps, milk powder dispenser etc.
Anti-colic bottles are bottles that have a vented system that allows the air to be conducted through a tube to the bottom of the bottle. This ensures that the air doesn’t bubble through milk aerating it unnecessarily as this may lead to a decrease in the nutrient concentration.
Introducing Your Baby To Formula
Introducing your little one to formula requires a little planning. First of all, you’ll have to talk to your pediatrician to find out whether to exclusively give your baby formula or as a supplement to breastfeeding.
Note that not every formula is good for your baby so inquire on what’s best to introduce to your little one. Ensure you have a plan to determine who will be introducing the formula to your little one as a baby is very much aware of the mother’s scent thus they may insist on searching for the breast to get the milk they are used to.
Secondly, you can introduce the formula as a side dish by adding it to their cereals or puree once in a while. A little patience is key here and you should try and bottle feed them with formula when they are hungry to see if it’ll get things going.
Thirdly, to get your baby accustomed to the taste of formula, you can first introduce the baby to a mixture of breastmilk and formula in different proportions with the breast milk being more. If they respond positively to this, add more formula and reduce the quantity of breast milk until they are receptive of it.
Formula can be mixed with water inside the feeding bottle or you can use a milk powder dispenser.
Most moms are often worried as to whether they are producing enough milk for their little ones or not. Your supply of breast milk depends on your baby’s demand for it, so the less often you nurse the less supply you’ll have. You can pump and store some milk as you supplement breastfeeding with formula to keep your supply level normal .
There are ways to find out if your baby is feeding well and these are:
- A well-fed baby is most likely to gain weight about half an ounce to an ounce a day in the first three months and half an ounce between three and six months.
- You are breastfeeding frequently, at least seven times a day. Note that it doesn’t necessarily mean that if a baby wants to suckle they’re hungry. Sometimes they’re just looking for a comfort spot, a bonding moment with their mom or to fulfil their urge to suck.
- Frequent mustard yellow stools and wet diapers.
*It’s important to build on your milk supply by expressing and refrigerating it.
BREAST MILK STORAGE
After pumping, breast milk can stay fresh at room temperature for about four to six hours, four days in the refrigerator and up to 12 months in the freezer. Breast milk can be stored in storage bags or storage cups made of BPA free materials. There are things to consider before purchasing a breast milk storage bag/cup:
- They should be made of BPA free material.
- They should clear accurate measurements to tell the amount of breast milk collected.
- They should have a strong seal that prevents contamination and leakage.
- Write on a notepad to be able to keep track of the dates in which the milk was pumped.
When storing breast milk on the counter, make sure you keep it in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Milk stored in the refrigerator and freezer should be kept in the back as the temperature near the door varies from time to time. When consuming stored breast milk, start with the oldest one to be stored first. Breast Milk storage bags can be found here.
The fridge is used for short-term breast milk storage while the freezer is used for long-term breastmilk storage. As long as the milk is stored properly, it will stay fresh in the freezer but it’ll be less nutritious compared to the one stored in the fridge since freezing breast milk kill some of the natural vitamins including antioxidants.
How To Store Breast Milk
- Use a clean storage cup or bag to put in the expressed milk making sure the bags aren’t filled past the measurement indicator line.
- Seal the bag or the cup tightly to prevent contamination. If you’re using bags, put them inside another container and seal it so that they don’t come into contact with other items in the fridge.
- Always store freshly pumped milk at the back of the fridge where it’s cold and the temperature is consistent.
- You can add freshly pumped breast milk to already refrigerated milk but ensure they are at the same temperature, first cool the fresh milk then add it to the old milk.
- Store milk in small batches and label them correctly to avoid wastage because once milk has been warmed it cannot be refrozen.
Consuming Stored Breast Milk
After freezing breast milk, you’ve got to reheat it once you are ready to use it and once reheated, it cannot be refrozen. The best way to thaw frozen breast milk is to keep it in the refrigerator for 24 hours or if you urgently need it, you can place the container or cup with the milk in a bowl of warm water that doesn’t rise above the bottle.
Never use the microwave to defrost breast milk as it can kill the milk’s immune properties and even create hotspots due to uneven heating that could potentially burn the baby’s mouth and throat. Alternatively, you could use a bottle warmer to warm the baby’s milk. Check out some here. Test the milk on the inside of your forearm to know whether it’s at the right temperature. It should feel warm and not hot.