Best advice for how to bottle feed your baby
Believe it or not, bottle feeding is an art. Find out how you can increase your chances of success with your baby.
Bottle feed your baby

Although every mum and baby are different, and what works for you might not work for others, there are definitely some strategies that may be making your bottle feeding easier or harder. Lactation expert Rowena Bennett lays down the dos and don'ts of bottle feeding your baby.

Definitely do the following:

  • Choose a quiet environment
  • Sit in a position where you will both be comfortable
  • Check the milk temperature
  • Make sure your baby can move around freely while feeding - but is still held securely
  • Baby's neck should be in the crook of your elbow - rather than her head
  • She will be able to swallow easier if her head is slightly tilted backwards
  • Encourage your newborn baby to open her mouth by gently stroking her lips with the tip of the teat. Babies over the age of two months will willingly open their mouth to accept the bottle when hungry
  • Hold the bottle at around a 90-degree angle to your baby’s face
  • Make sure there is correct pressure inside the bottle, with a small amount of air coming in so milk can flow freely
  • Apply gentle pressure under your newborn baby’s chin to encourage her to feed. Pressure from the teat on the roof of her mouth may trigger her sucking reflex
  • Engage with your baby during feeds
  • Observe your baby and try to recognise and respond to her cues
  • Allow your baby to decide how much milk she will consume
  • Check that baby is not feeding too quickly or slowly. See: Making bottle feeding easy.

What to avoid when bottle feeding:

  • Leaving the bottle supported by an object rather than a person (prop feeding) as this may result in fluid getting into baby's airways.
  • Moving the bottle around while feeding, causing her to lose concentration/suction
  • Repeatedly break the feed to burp your baby
  • Rush baby to complete the feed, as she may end up overfeeding
  • Try to make your baby take more than she wants. If your baby is not taking as much milk as expected or fusses during feeds this could indicate a problem exists. Attempting to force her to feed will not solve the problem and may only make the situation worse.
This article was written by Rowena Bennett and adapted for Kidspot, New Zealand's favourite parenting resource for Early Life Nutrition.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional for advice about feeding your baby. This post is part of the Early Life Nutrition story.
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