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bottle-feeding: an overview

New parents are always on a quest to find the perfect bottle for their newborn. Chances are, you'll have to try different types of bottles, such as straight-neck and angle-neck, to figure out which one your baby prefers. That said, the type of bottle you choose should be one that helps to reduce gas and discomfort, and keeps your baby content.

We hope this guide will help you choose the right bottle for you and baby, as well point you in the right direction in selecting the nipples and formula to make both of you happy.

types of bottles

reusable bottles

As the name suggests, these bottles can be used over and over again. And whether it's a straight- or angle-neck bottle, a clear style is best to see the amount baby is drinking. All bottles are marked in ounces for easy, precise measuring.

straight-neck bottles come in tall and wide shapes. You may prefer the wide shape, since it's more stable and easier to clean. It also makes it simpler to pour liquid into or out of the bottle. Additionally, many bottles have an anti-vacuum function to reduce the discomfort of gas.

angle-neck bottles are designed to keep the nipple filled with liquid to reduce air intake during feeding. They promote holding baby upright, which many doctors believe can help reduce ear infections. Some angle-neck bottles are insulated to keep milk fresh longer.

disposable bottles offer economical, on-the-go convenience using a holder with pre-sterilized, disposable liners. After a feeding, just toss the liner, with minimal clean-up necessary. They also feature wide-based nipples to help baby transition between breast and bottle.

pre-sterilized liners are airtight and flexible so they contract, reducing air ingestion and preventing painful gas. To avoid spills, disposable nursers can be fully assembled for traveling.

pre-sterilized cups are sturdy and offer reliable protection for liquids or breast milk. You can write on them for easy identification and stack them in the freezer or refrigerator. When ready for use, they can be safely put in a bottle warmer. For on-the-go feeding, attach a nipple to the cup.

types of nipples

Babies are particular about the nipples they accept, which accounts for the availability of many shapes, flow rates, and materials. Use nipples and collars from the same manufacturer to ensure a tight fit and avoid messy leaks.

Some newborns need to be coaxed at first by gently stimulating their lips with the nipple before they begin sucking. Once they get used to it, the motion is likely to come more naturally. Your baby will let you know which nipple she likes best if you watch her reaction while using it. Replace nipples every two to three months.

naturally shaped nipples are soft, with a wider base and are designed to encourage proper latch-on and suckling so baby can switch between bottle and breastfeeding.

orthodontic nipples resemble a mother's nipple after baby's repeated sucking. They are elongated and indented in the center to evoke the same tonguing action of breastfeeding babies.

traditional nipples are bell-shaped with a thinner base and tip. These nipples have a range of flow rates: slow for newborns, fast for toddlers. The number of holes varies, too.

anti-vacuum nipples allow air into the bottle to prevent a vacuum while feeding. A vacuum causes the nipple to collapse, making it hard for baby to drink. If baby has to work too hard to get liquid, it can lead to discomfort.

multi-flow nipples can be adjusted before feeding for slow, medium or fast flow rate. The multi-flow nipple ensures the right flow rate, every time.

slotted, multi-flow nipples have slots instead of holes to feed thin cereal or pulpy juices. They are turned during feeding to accommodate the flow needed for the thickness of the food or fluid.

silicone nipples are made of clear, heat-resistant material that can withstand a dishwasher's high temperatures. Silicone is less porous than latex and not as prone to bacteria. Silicone nipples can last three to four times longer than latex.

latex nipples are more flexible than silicone and made of a brown, soft material, which may allow for easier suction. They need to be replaced more often and inspected regularly for cracks or signs of wear.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that all bottles and nipples be sterilized the first time you use them, which can be done by placing them in boiling water for five to 10 minutes. After that, you can wash them with hot tap water and dish soap if your home has chlorinated water; if it doesn't, you should continue to use boiled water. Be sure to let bottles dry and cool completely before using.

choosing baby formula

Baby's feeding needs aren't something you'll want to skimp on. After all, feeding begins as soon as baby arrives, so you'll want to be prepared to keep him happy! Next to mother's milk, formula is the only alternative and serves as the best source of nutrients for baby's growth.

Formula can meet his nutritional needs for the first four to six months. Choose from basic, milk-based formula and specialty organic, soy, lactose-free, hypoallergenic and preemie varieties. New infant formulas contain DHA and ARA, two nutrients found in breastmilk that are thought to contribute to mental and visual development.

For babies younger than 1 year old, it's important that they take formula, not regular cow's milk, in their bottles. Children this young are not able to properly digest cow's milk, and infant formulas can provide them with the vitamins and minerals they need at a very young age.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all infant formulas marketed in the U.S. for safety and nutritional requirements. The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that parents do not try to make their own formula, which is less likely to contain the proper mix of nutrients.

types of formula

When deciding on a formula for baby, there are several options you'll come across. If you're not sure what's best for your little one's needs, ask your pediatrician for her recommendation.

powder formulas are generally the most economical and easiest to store and carry. Be sure to check the expiration date and discard unused powder one month after opening.

ready-made formulas are prepared and ready-to-go for baby without needing to mix with water. Although this is the most convenient at-the-time option, it's usually the more expensive choice and must be used within 48 hours after opening.

liquid concentrate formulas usually require mixing equal parts formula and water. Like ready-made formulas, an already-prepared mixture must be discarded if not used within 48 hours.

cow's milk-based formulas are formulated with a blend of proteins similar to those found in breastmilk. Almost all formulas start with a base of cow's milk; however, it is then processed in a way that makes it safe for infants and easier for them to digest.

organic formulas are made with high quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

soy-based formulas are sold as an alternative to milk-based formulas. Soy can help with digestion if milk-based formulas cause discomfort.

lactose-free cow's milk formulas are a source of milk protein with lactase enzyme added, providing easier digestion for babies with lactose sensitivity.

preparing baby formula

When preparing a powder or liquid formula, be sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully. It's important to mix the right proportion of water and formula so baby gets the most out of feeding time. Too much water can mean that your baby doesn't get the right amount of nutrients and can slow her growth. Too little water can cause dehydration.

If you have concerns about the safety of the water you're using for the formula, including well water, boil the water for a full minute. Let it cool before you use it to mix with the formula.

Many babies prefer warm or room temperature formula. If you need to heat it, you should not use a microwave, which can heat it unevenly and potentially be too hot in spots for baby. The best way to heat the bottle is to place it in a pan of hot water for several minutes. Test the temperature of the formula by placing a few drops on your wrist.

bottle feeding schedule

Babies who are bottle-fed don't need to feed as often as breastfed babies. For most newborns who are bottle-fed, feeding every three to four hours is appropriate. They will take about 2-3 ounces per feeding at this time. At 1 month old, about 4 ounces per feeding is right, and you can increase it to 6-8 ounces by 6 months old.

You can also judge if it's the right amount by watching for signs that your baby is still hungry. After a feeding, she may smack her lips, squirm, or stick her tongue out. If she turns her head away or starts getting distracted, that may indicate that she's full.

In the first month, five to six wet diapers and at least three or four bowel movements a day indicates that your baby is getting enough to eat, according to the AAP.

Always check what's right for your baby with your pediatrician.

Having the right bottle-nipple pairing will ensure a happier baby at feeding time. Add the proper formula and this scheduled routine will turn into a delightful bonding experience for the both of you!

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