If breastfeeding isn’t possible for you, you may choose to bottle-feed your baby with either expressed breast milk or a formula. Some babies will have no trouble taking a bottle while others might need a little encouragement.

Getting started

See our article About the bottle and your feeding equipment for a simple breakdown of the equipment you will need to get started.

Once you’ve sterilized your bottle and made up your feed, check the temperature of the bottle by testing it on the inside of your wrist. If it feels too hot on your skin let the bottle cool by running it under the tap.

Next, seat yourself comfortably and snuggle up to your little one. It’s better for them to be on a slight incline so any air they might swallow can rise to the top. This helps with burping.

Slide the teat into their mouth keeping the bottle tipped at an angle so there is always milk in the teat (this keeps your baby from swallowing air). Now simply enjoy the closeness of this special time.

If your little one stops sucking strongly or when they are about halfway through their bottle, sit them up and see whether they want to burp (check out our article on burping if you are looking for some tips on this). Once you’ve tried burping them, continue to feed them the rest of the bottle. When you are done throw away any unfinished milk.

How hungry are they?

You may notice your little one already has a unique personality and they will make you aware when they’re full, tired, or just needing a break. Signs of fullness can be slowing down, moving their head away, or resting for a while between bouts of sucking. There will be a guide on your formula pack that tells you how much you should use, but you may need more or less depending on your baby. Every baby is different, and some days they will be extra hungry, and at other times their appetite will be smaller.

Other helpful tips:

  • Don’t wait till your baby is hungry to give them their first bottle. This will only cause them frustration if they are a little thrown off by the bottle.
  • If you’re in a public area they may be distracted with all the new noises and things going on around them, and it may take you longer than usual to feed, but let them look around for a bit then try again.
  • Bottle-fed babies can get thirsty, so if it’s a hot day make sure to give them some cooled boiled water.
  • Try different teats, there are many different designs available so there may be some trial and error until you find one that your baby prefers.