Expressing and bottle feeding

manual breast pump

There may be times when you need to express your breast milk. Have a look through our guide to expressing breast milk and bottle feeding.

How to bottle feed your baby

Start by sitting comfortably, avoid leaning forwards as this can make your back ache. Support your baby's head so they can breathe and swallow comfortably. If your baby has reflux or colic, try to keep them as upright as possible to minimise the amount of air they swallow.

Gently brush the bottle teat against your baby's lips (with the teat pointing upwards). Wait until your baby's mouth opens, then carefully place the teat inside. Hold the bottle firmly and horizontally so the teat is full of milk – this helps reduce the amount of air your baby swallows. Make sure you're using the right teats with the correct flow (the right sized holes).

If you notice the teat going flat in your baby's mouth, carefully slide a clean finger between the gums and the teat to break the suction. Your baby will probably feed for a while, then take short rest breaks before continuing. Check your baby is comfortable and in the right position.

Some babies take a while to get used to bottle feeding, especially if they're used to breastfeeding (the sucking action is different). If your baby doesn't seem to like the bottle, try feeding little-and-often to get them used to it. You can also try using different teats and change the feeding position.

Did you know?

You should never bottle feed your baby while they're lying flat on their back, as this could cause choking.

Burping breaks

Your baby may need a few breaks during feeding to burp (especially important if your baby has reflux or colic). Sit your baby on your lap facing away from you, or over your shoulder, and gently pat or rub their back. Have a look at our guide to burping your baby.

When your baby burps, they may bring up some milk – this is normal and nothing to worry about, just make sure you have a muslin or cloth handy! If your baby brings up a lot of milk after feeds, seems unsettled and cries a lot during or after feeds, talk to your health visitor or doctor. This may be related to colic, reflux or a cows’ milk allergy.

Bottle feeding advice

For more information have a look at the NHS guidelines on bottle feeding and sterilising baby bottles.

If you have any questions, concerns, or need some advice (whether you are breastfeeding or using first infant formula), call the NCT helpline (0300 330 0700).

The Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life, available 24 / 7, has lots of useful information and expert advice to share with you.

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