Keeping your baby safe and healthy is your number one goal as a parent. The Internet, parenting magazines, well-meaning friends and family - everyone has opinions and advice about how to keep things running smoothly. And when it comes to infant feeding, you may get overwhelmed with tips! Whether you’re using bottles filled with breastmilk or with formula, following these guidelines can help you successfully - and safely - bottle feed your little one.
- Keep everything clean: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using the dishwasher or hot, soapy water for cleaning bottles, teats, and other feeding equipment. They advise sterilizing the equipment once per day - particularly if for babies who are younger than 3 months or who have health problems this will prevent germ contamination of your baby’s food source. And be sure to wash your hands every time before preparing the bottle!
- Mix only what you need: Make a fresh bottle for each feeding. This eliminates waste and decreases the possibility of bacterial growth. Sometimes, however, you may find that you need to prepare some ahead. Just be sure to refrigerate this until you need to use it (no more than 4 hours in a cooler bag or 12 hours in the fridge for pre-mixed formula; thawed breastmilk that hasn’t been warmed can be kept in a cooler for 4 hours, and frozen breastmilk can be kept in a cooler for up to 24 hours).
- Follow preparation instructions: If you are using formula, follow your care provider’s instructions about whether or not to boil the water for mixing formula. You may use tap water or bottled water, just be sure not to use mineral, flavored or carbonated water. Follow the instructions exactly for the amount of water and the amount of formula needed for a serving. Discard any unused formula at the end of a feeding – don’t save it for later or reheat it.
- Not too hot, not too cold: You can thaw frozen breastmilk by placing it in the refrigerator overnight, or if you’re in a hurry by holding it under warm running water. Breastmilk and formula can be heated by placing the bottle in a container of hot tap water for up to 15 minutes. Some babies will take cold milk, but most babies prefer it warmed a little. Never use a microwave to heat your baby’s bottle. The microwave can cause uneven heating and hot spots, which could burn your baby. Do not pour overheated liquid into a plastic liner, as it can burst.
- Make the most of your feeding time: Get yourself comfortable before you start the feeding – you may be sitting in this position for a while. Be sure you’re holding the bottle (and the baby) at a good angle so that the milk flow is easy for baby to manage. Use feeding time as an opportunity to bond with your baby – talk or sing to him, snuggle him close, rock him, and relax together throughout the feeding.
- Let baby set the pace: When your baby starts to turn away, push the nipple out of his mouth or fall asleep, you can stop the feeding. Don’t jiggle to bottle in an effort to force him to finish. Let his hunger (and fullness) be your guide. It may take 20 to 40 minutes for your newborn to finish a bottle, but the feedings should get more efficient as he gets older. If feedings are going too fast, your baby may swallow a lot of air and be fussy or gassy. If feedings take too long, your baby could tire before getting enough to eat. If either of these things is happening, check the nipple hole size, or adjust the bottle angle.
- Never prop a bottle: Leaving a bottle propped against a pillow or another support is not only a choking hazard but can also lead to tooth decay and ear infections. Never leave your baby unattended with a bottle.
The BlueSmart mia smart bottle feeding system allows you to track and analyze your baby’s feedings regardless of what’s in the bottle. Features like the temperature and angle alerts, expiration warnings and feeding amounts will keep your baby safe in real time and can be accessed anytime from the mobile app. No matter who is feeding baby, you can stay on top of making it a safe and successful experience for everyone.