The right time to introduce your little one to a bottle is only after breastfeeding is going well and your baby is around 4 weeks old. If your baby is having feeding problems, particularly with latching on, it’s best to avoid any bottle-feeding until she’s breastfeeding easily. Switching from breast to bottle too early may confuse a young baby because bottle-feeding requires a completely different sucking pattern. Start out by feeding your baby expressed breastmilk in a bottle once a day or every other day. If your baby is two months or older, it may be difficult for her to accept bottle-feeding because she has become used to breastfeeding. In this case, another person such as Dad or a relative may need to lend a hand. Your baby knows you and can easily sense your skin and touch as well as your presence. Some mothers may need to leave the room while another person bottle-feeds the baby. Be patient and calm. Try bottle-feeding your baby when she’s not hungry and somewhat sleepy so she will be more apt to take a bottle.
If you’re breastfeeding, use sealed and refrigerated breastmilk within 48 hours. When feeding formula, we recommend preparing and feeding a bottle immediately. If you must prepare ahead of time, refrigerate unused bottles up to 24 hours. After feeding begins, discard any remaining formula left in the bottle within one hour. Once a baby has fed from a bottle, microorganisms from her mouth are introduced into the formula. Neither refrigeration nor reheating completely prevents these microorganisms from growing.
Many new moms have questions about preparing a bottle. First, be sure never to heat a bottle of breastmilk or formula in the microwave. It creates hot spots in the liquid that can burn her mouth, and it destroys breastmilk’s delicate nutrients. Safely warm a bottle with these steps:
Stand the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes or hold under running water.
Gently shake the bottle to distribute the warmed milk.
Test warmed breastmilk or formula by shaking a few drops onto your wrist. If the liquid feels just barely warm, it’s a safe temperature for your little one.
Letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle filled with fruit juice, breastmilk, or formula can promote tooth decay. Infants are susceptible to tooth decay even before they cut all their teeth.
Follow these simple guidelines suggested by dentists:
Take the bottle away from your baby before she falls asleep.
Weaning your baby from the bottle may be completed by her first birthday.
Be sure to never put juice or sweetened drinks into your baby’s bottle.
Clean your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, soft washcloth or fluoride-free tooth and gum cleanser after each feeding.