Guest blog by Kate Herzel, professional doula and co-owner of Heartland Doulas.
Congratulations! You’ve decided how you’re going to feed your baby, and we support your choice!
Whether breast milk or formula, one thing is almost certain:
You will probably feed your baby from a bottle, at some point.
Here are five things I know about bottle feeding:
- Always feed in a semi-upright position.
Feeding a baby lying down makes them prone to ear infections and can lead to painful gas or uncomfortable acid reflux. You can achieve a semi-upright position by cradling your baby, sitting with your knees bent and propping baby on your lap, using a Boppy pillow, or in the Fisher Price Rock N’ Play. If you have a baby who is prone to acid reflux, keep your baby semi-upright for at least 30 minutes following a feeding to lessen the symptoms.
- Be sure your baby is not sucking in air
When babies suck in air through their bottles, it causes painful gas buildup in their bellies. You can prevent this by tilting the bottle at an angle and watching that the milk is completely filling the nipple, or there are several bottles on the market designed to prevent air from getting in. Our favorites are the Mimijumi which has an angled nipple, the Tommee Tippe Anti-Colic Bottle which has a vent for air built in, and the classic Playtex Drop Ins which holds the milk in a bag preventing air from entering.
- Prepare formula according to package directions.
It can be tempting to add cereal to a bottle or adjust the ratio of water to powder when you are trying to troubleshoot a baby who has colic, reflux, or sleeping trouble. Too much formula-to-water can make your baby constipated and dehydrated, and too little can affect your baby’s growth and development if they are not getting the proper nutrition balance. The AAP’s official stance is that cereal added to a bottle is a choking hazard. Check with your trusted Colorado pediatrician first!
- You may not have to heat your bottles.
Many babies will take a bottle at room temperature or even straight from the fridge! Whether breast milk or formula, it is a real time-saver if you can skip the step of heating the bottle. If you have a baby who prefers a warmed bottle, you can heat it in a bottle warmer or by submerging it in a glass of warm (not hot) water. The Kiinde Kozii is our favorite bottle warmer, great for both bottles and Kiinde milk storage bags, which you can pump directly into and feed directly from if you are breastfeeding–saving you time and equipment to be washed! Remember never to heat bottles in the microwave, as it can cause very hot spots to form in the bottle and burn your baby’s mouth.
- Nipple flow is not created equal.
There is no standardized system to rate the flow of nipples. One brand’s “level 1” nipple might have a faster flow than another brand’s “level 3”. Dr. Brown’s level 2 nipple is a slower flow than Enfamil’s preemie nipple! You can check out a comparison chart to see how yours stacks up against others. So long as your baby seems happy and contented during feeding, the nipple size is just fine no matter what number is printed on it. A general rule of thumb is that a feeding should take about 15 minutes, so if you are formula feeding, you may need to go up in nipple size as you start making larger bottles, and if you are feeding breast milk, you may never need to change your nipple size (as your bottles will typically never be larger than four ounces). Editor’s note: Local Colorado IBCLC Cathy Janoka recommends never switching from a size 1 (slow flow) nipple to encourage proper oral development and latch for babies who are also breastfed.
You will be bonded to your baby
No matter how you feed your baby, it is an act of love. Take your time to be present and savor the moments you have together. Before you know it, you’ll be sending them off for their first day of school!
If you are looking for hands-on professional support as you navigate feeding your newborn baby, contact us to learn more about our experienced and compassionate postpartum doulas in Denver, Colorado Springs, and other surrounding Colorado cities.
Kate Herzel is the co-owner of Heartland Doulas alongside Stacy Ash, and together with their combined 20 years of experience and seven professional doulas, they help people have really amazing birth and postpartum experiences. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking with her children, brewing beer with her husband, and entertaining friends.