Whether you plan to express, combine breast and bottle, or just want general advice, here’s what you need to know
We all know that breast is best for babies, but it can still be useful to familiarise yourself with the basics of bottlefeeding. It may be that you decide to combine breast and bottle, or that for some reason your breastfeeding doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped. And even if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, it can often be useful to express milk that you can then feed to your baby in a bottle later. Many mums also like to use a bottle sometimes if they feel self-conscious feeding in public, or to enable their partners to share feeding duties.
If you’re planning to combine breastfeeding with bottlefeeding, get your baby used to the breast first. “It’s important that your baby-feeding technique at the breast is good, and that your milk supply is given time to fully establish,” advises Vicki Scott, Avent feeding expert. “You can then start to gradually introduce bottlefeeds, so there are no sudden upsets if you’re planning to go back to work or want to go out and can’t be there to feed.”
The UK Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency revised their advice in November 2005, following UNICEF guidelines, advising you to make up a fresh bottle for each feed, using hot (but not boiling) water of over 70ºC. These instructions were introduced because powdered infant formula milk is not sterile and there’s a small risk of contamination from micro-organisms if made-up formula is kept. It’s now advised that feeds are made fresh when required.
In practice, however, this may not always be practical, especially if your baby isn’t in a routine. If your baby suddenly decides he’s going to scream if he doesn’t get his bottle immediately (not once the water is boiled and cooled), it’s suggested you keep freshly boiled water in a sealed flask for up to a couple of hours. When he demands his feed, pour this water into a sterilised bottle, then add the formula.
If you’re combining breastfeeding and bottlefeeding, Gail Johnson from the Royal College of Midwives advises the following to help maintain your milk flow:
Vicki Scott, Avent feeding expert, offers her advice:
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