Safe Preparation and Storage of Formula

After writing last week's post, I thought it only fair I write about the alternative feeding choice. Just as breastfeeding can be a learning curve, it's important to get bottle preparation right too. After seeing some families struggle with the guidance quickly shared in hospital, I'm glad I've got the opportunity to write clear instructions for, starting with the basics. Sometimes information is just overloaded all at once, so don't worry if you need a little reminder!

Sterilising Equipment

There are lots of different options when it comes to which equipment to use to make up a bottle. Neither are better than another, but it is which one suits you. Make sure to read the instructions on the product prior to using, to ensure you use it correctly. Options include: specific steriliser set ups, cold water sterilisers, steam sterilisers and microwave sterilisers. 

All pieces of the bottle should be taken apart and washed individually with washing up liquid and water first. This removes any leftover milk and residue. They should then be sterilised using whichever technique has been chosen. 

Once they have finished being sterilised, wash your hands thoroughly before handling sterilised bottle and teats. Do not rinse or dry the bottle before making up the formula as this will then un-sterilise it. 

Safe Equipment 

One of the common items that people regularly are buying nowadays are bottle prep machines. We strongly advise not to use these as they are unsafe and cause a risk to babies. They are difficult to clean, impossible to sterilise and can cause infections. They don't get the water to a high enough temperature to kill all the bacteria in the formula. I know a lot of women who have reported baby being uncomfortable, stopping using the machines completely, and baby settling overnight. 

Making up a Bottle

First of all, it is important to make a bottle up fresh every time. If you listen to older family members, they regularly report making up bottles for the whole day or night, and just reheating it or even giving at room temperature. 

Prior to beginning, make sure you sterilise bottles and teats until your baby is at least 12 months old. 

If you are using pre-made formula you can only use the bottle for an hour after opening, the same time limit applies for when you make up a bottle. 

To make a bottle using powder, use boiled water from a kettle. Pour the desired volume into the sterile bottle. For every 30mls or 1 ounce of water, add one level scoop of powder. The scoop measure should come with the formula and make sure to level it on the container. Once added, secure the teat and lid, then shake the bottle for 1 minute. 

It takes about 20 minutes for the bottle to then cool down to the ideal temperature. You can also run it under cool water to speed this process. Always check the temperature on your skin by allowing it to drop onto your wrist. If it feels warm, it is too hot. 

Feeding Baby

Bottle feeding, can still allow for bonding and should be limited to a select number of people, ideally just the parents. Make sure you're sitting comfortably and have support to protect your posture before beginning. Bond by looking at, talking to and stroking baby whilst feeding.

The ideal position for baby to feed in, is semi-recumbant. This allows them to safely feed so that they can breathe and feed, without restrictions or choking. 

We now recommend responsive feeding and pacing the feed. Responsive feeding means allowing the baby to lead the feed. We still recommend feeding at least 3 hourly. If baby hasn't woken by this point, wake them by tickling their feet, changing their nappy or undressing them. Also respond to feeding cues to be directed by them.

When introducing the bottle, brush the teat against the baby's lips and when they open their mouth wide let them draw in the teat. Keep the bottle in a horizontal position, slightly tipped at a 45 degree angle. This allows the milk to flow steadily but prevents choking, because the baby has to work to bring the milk into the bottle. It can cause them to be a little windier, so make sure to wind half way through, to allow them to take a break. 

Other Points

Winding is important. I always recommend winding a baby after every feed, even breastfeeding. You can wind I baby by rubbing or patting their back gently. There are a few ways to do this. Ones I like include having baby up onto your shoulder or sitting on your lap, and gently leaning baby forward, supporting under the chin. If you aren't getting much wind up, you can also move baby slowly in circles.

Despite commercial advertisement, no formula is better than another. They all have very similar ingredients, as per guidelines and regulations. There is also no evidence that special formula's like "hungry baby" or follow on milks are required. Keep to the simple basic formulas. 

Baby will likely only take a small amount to begin with. Once baby finishes three bottles in a row, make up an additional 30mls, or 1 ounce. Baby might not always finish the full amount, but that way baby can decide.