Your pregnancy and baby guide

Bottle feeding advice

If you're planning to bottle feed with expressed breast milk or infant formula, these tips will help keep your baby safe and healthy.

Buying bottle feeding equipment

You'll need a number of bottles and teats, as well as sterilising equipment. 

There's no evidence that one type of teat or bottle is better than any other.

Simple bottles that are easy to wash and sterilise are probably best.

Making up bottles

Make sure your bottles and teats are sterilised and wash your hands thoroughly.

If you're using infant formula, follow the instructions on the packaging carefully when you make up the feed.

See how to make up baby formula.

How to bottle feed your baby

Bottle feeding is a chance to feel close to your baby and get to know them.

Make sure you're sitting comfortably. Enjoy holding your baby and looking into their eyes as you feed them. 

Hold your baby fairly upright for bottle feeds. Support their head so they can breathe and swallow comfortably. 

Brush the teat against your baby's lips and, when your they open their mouth wide, let them draw in the teat.  

Always give your baby plenty of time to feed.

Keep the teat full

When bottle feeding, keep the teat full of milk, otherwise your baby will take in air.

If the teat goes flat while you're feeding, gently poke your little finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to release the suction.

If the teat gets blocked, replace it with another sterile teat.

Winding your baby

Your baby may take short breaks during a feed and may need to burp sometimes.

When your baby has had enough milk, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to bring up any wind.

Throw away unused milk

Throw away any unused formula or breast milk after you have finished bottle feeding your baby.

Be guided by your baby

All babies are different. Some want to feed more often that others, and some want more milk.

Just follow your baby's lead.

Feed them when they seem hungry and don't worry if they don't finish the bottle.

Don't leave your baby alone

Never leave your baby alone to feed with a propped-up bottle as they may choke on the milk.

Help with bottle feeding

Talk to your midwife, health visitor or other mothers who have bottle fed if you need help.

You'll find the phone number for your health visitor in your baby's red book.

Your questions about bottle feeding

Why doesn't my baby settle after feeds?

If your baby swallows air while bottle feeding, they may feel uncomfortable and cry.

After a feed, hold your baby upright against your shoulder or propped forward on your lap. Gently rub their back so any trapped air can find its way out.

There's no need to overdo it – wind isn't as big a problem as many people think.

Why does my baby sometimes vomit after feeds?

It's normal for babies to bring up a little milk during or just after a feed. This is called possetting, regurgitation or reflux

Keep a muslin square handy just in case.

Check that the hole in your baby's teat is not too big. Drinking milk too quickly can make your baby sick.

Don't force them to take more milk than they want during a feed.

Sitting your baby upright on your lap after a feed may help.

If it happens a lot, or your baby is violently sick, seems to be in pain or you're worried for any other reason, talk to your health visitor or GP.

Can formula make my baby constipated?

When using formula, always use the amount of powder recommended on the packaging.

Don't add extra formula powder. Using too much can make your baby constipated and may cause dehydration.

If your baby is under 8 weeks old and hasn't done a poo for 2 to 3 days, talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP, particularly if they are gaining weight slowly.

Your baby should be gaining weight and have plenty of wet and dirty nappies.

Infant formula and allergies

If you think your baby might be allergic to or intolerant of formula, talk to your GP. If necessary, they can prescribe a special formula feed.

Some formula is labelled as hypoallergenic, but this isn't suitable for babies with a diagnosed cows' milk allergy.

Soya formula should only be given to babies under medical supervision.

Always talk to your GP before using hypoallergenic or soya-based formula.

Read more about cows' milk allergy and lactose intolerance.

Get Start4Life pregnancy and baby emails

For information and advice you can trust, sign up for weekly Start4Life pregnancy and baby emails.

Page last reviewed: 18/02/2018
Next review due: 18/02/2021