Do you know how much nutrition the baby has had through bottle feeding?


Bottle feeding lets me know how much nutrition the baby has had. Moms who bottle-feed, whether using expressed breast milk or anything else, should be aware that while artificial feeding may seem to be a very accurate measure of volume consumed, in fact it is often not. Bottle-fed infants more often regurgitate some quantity of a feed, or get a less than perfect balance of fore and hind milk than they might if feeding directly from the breast. If a substance other than breastmilk is used, the increased metabolic workload for the baby, lower digestibility of nutrients and increased waste substantially dilute the benefit of a feed, although it is more easily measured.

It is simple to bottle-feed safely.

Bottle-feeding caregivers face certain challenges in feeding a baby safely. 

Wash hands before handling bottles or feeding baby.

Wash bottles and nipples/teats with hot water and soap, and rinse well. Some sources recommend sterilization of all feeding equipment, particularly bottle nipples/teats.

If infant formula is used:

Wash, rinse, and dry the top of the formula can before you open it. Make sure that all equipment used has been thoroughly cleaned: can opener, measuring cups/spoons, mixing container, etc.

Lot numbers should be kept for any infant formula or bottled water fed to the baby, so that parents can determine whether the product was subject to a recall.

For powdered formula, a clean source of water must be available, free from bacteria. If tap water is used, the caregiver must decide whether to boil the water to eliminate bacteria (which may concentrate any heavy metals in the water), or to use unboiled water. Because powdered infant formula is not sterile, it should be mixed with water that is at least 70°C/158°F to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present in the formula (to reduce the risk of infection, do not mix with cooled water–even if it is bottled or has already been boiled). Cool formula before feeding to baby.

Quantities the baby will need should be carefully estimated, since unused formula must be discarded after the feed.

If you are using both breastmilk and infant formula during the same feed, it’s best not to mix them in the same bottle. This is simply to avoid wasting breastmilk when baby does not finish the bottle (since it contains formula, contents must be discarded at the end of the feed). Feed the breastmilk, then follow with formula.

Additional resources

There are a number of options for feeding baby when you are unable to directly breastfeed-a bottle is only one of them. If your baby is older than 4-6 months old, consider going straight to a cup. If your baby is younger than 3-4 weeks old, consider alternative feeding methods for a couple of reasons:

Regular use of a bottle instead of breastfeeding can interfere with mom’s efforts to establish a good milk supply

Bottle use also increases baby’s risk of nipple or flow preference

One study has shown that babies fed by bottle (whether the contents are breastmilk or formula) tend to gain too much weight.