Deciding whether to bottle feed your baby can be a difficult choice. Your Maternal and Child Health nurse can be a great help and support in helping you work through the issues.
If and when to bottle feed your baby
If your baby is partially breastfed, commercial infant formula should be used and always follow the directions on the formula package because different brands of formula may require different amounts of water and powder.
There are a few things to consider before you try ‘mixed’ feeding:
- You might find that your breasts get too full of milk, which can be uncomfortable and halt the milk-making process.
- You’ll have a reduction in your milk supply.
- Your baby might prefer the bottle and refuse the breast.
- Your baby’s poo might change in colour, smell and consistency.
If you do intend on supplementing with formula, it’s important that you chat to your midwife or Maternal and Child Health nurse first. They can give you valuable information about how to boost your milk supply, how much formula to give your baby and how many times a day to give formula.
Breastmilk by bottle
You might find yourself in a situation where you want to bottle feed breast milk to your baby.
To store breast milk, you first need to express it (pump it from your breast into a sterile container). This can be done by hand or using a pump. Some women find it easy to express; for others, it takes a bit of practice at first. To find out more about how to express, visit the
Australian Breastfeeding Association.
It’s best to put breast milk in the fridge directly after expressing, because after six hours at room temperature the milk deteriorates.
You can store breast milk for:
- up to 3-5 days in the back of the fridge
- up to 3 months in the freezer
- up to 6-12 months in a deep freezer.
If you thawed the milk in the fridge it must be used within 24 hours. Once thawed, never re-freeze breast milk. If you’ve warmed the milk, use within one hour.
Remember it’s dangerous to thaw or heat milk in the microwave as it can burn your baby’s throat and mouth.
As with breastfed babies, bottle fed babies sometimes have milk coming back up the throat with a burp or spilling out of their mouth. Formula-fed newborns will often spill milk after feeds, so it's helpful to check the milk flow is not too fast. Check with your Maternal and Child Health nurse if you need help with this.
Cleaning and sterilising bottles
At such a young age when a baby’s immune system isn’t strong, you need to help make sure your baby doesn’t get an infection or get sick. Cleaning and sterilising feeding equipment is very important. Making sure all bottle-feeding equipment is sterile reduces the chances of your baby getting sick.
It’s important to sterilise equipment until your baby is 12 months old – this means not only sterilising it after washing, but also ensuring it remains sterile by:
- storing it straight away in a clean, sealed container in the fridge
- using any equipment within 24 hours of sterilising it.