formula feeding:
making up bottle feeds

Whether you're bottle feeding your little one from birth or have made the decision to switch from breast to bottle, learning how to make up a bottle feed safely is yet another parenting skill to add to your long list. But don't worry, once you've got all of the bits, bobs and teats squeaky clean, the rest is a walk in the park. Here's our short, easy guide for making up bottle feeds.

bottle and formula feeding guide from mothercare

scrupulous cleanliness

Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling any feeding equipment or starting to feed your baby. Nasty germs love to gather in those hard to reach places, so make sure you carefully wash and sterilise the bottles, teats, caps and retaining rings every time you use them.[1]

how to keep clean

Wash any feeding equipment in hot soapy water, and then suspend in a cold water sterilising solution, a steam or microwave steriliser. If you use a breast pump – you will also have to wash and sterilise all the parts, which come into contact with your breast milk. For further advice read the breast pump instructions.

ready-made or powdered formula?

Choosing ready made-up formula milk means you don't have to whip up the formula yourself and it can be very helpful when travelling and for night time feeding. Ready-made formula is already sterile so you don’t have to heat up the milk to a specific temperature – if you wish you can pour it straight from the carton into the sterilised bottle and feed to your baby at room temperature.

ready-made is it easier?

As before the same cleaning rules apply for immaculate bottles and teats. It may make your life a little bit easier using ready-made milk but it also tends to be a little more expensive.[2] Whichever you choose, never be tempted to skip or compromise on the cleaning and sterilising processes, as these are essential to keep your baby happy, healthy and infection-free.

preparing a bottle with powdered formula

Formula powder is not sterile so you have to use hot water (just boiled) to kill any potentially harmful bacteria in the powder. Before you start, wash your hands and make sure your work area is squeaky clean. Fill the kettle with fresh cold water and bring to the boil. Allow the water to cool slightly to around 70 degrees. Take a sterilised bottle and fill with the hot water to the right level.

adding the formula

Reading the instructions for your chosen powdered formula, scoop out the required amount of powder and level it off with a clean knife. Add this to the hot water in the bottle, screw on the teat/cap and then shake from side to side to blend. Allow the feed to cool by placing the bottle under a running cold tap. Always drop a little bit of milk onto your upturned wrist to test the temperature. If it feels too hot, run the bottle under the cold tap again. The milk should feel lukewarm on your skin.


is it ok to make up bottles in advance?

It’s normally better to make up each feed as required, but there will be times when you need to plan ahead and make up a few bottles in advance e.g. at your baby’s nursery or child-minder. To do this, you need to use the same method as mentioned about and then cool them down to room temperature first and then store them in the refrigerator. Transport them in a cool bag. Any unused milk (left over after a feed) or still in the fridge after 24 hours should always be thrown away.

tips for teats

There are so many teats available for you to try, with different shapes, sizes and flow rates to choose from. This is really a matter of trial and error until you find the one your baby sucks happily on. However, it is best to usually start with a slower flow teats and see how your baby gets on. If it seems like it’s too hard work for your baby then switch to a medium flow teat.

how to hold your baby

Always cradle your baby slightly up right in your arms during feeding so your baby feels in some control of the milk flow. And remember to frequently burp your baby as you don’t want your baby taking a feed too quickly or too slowly.

the out and about alternative

When you are off on a day trip or a little family holiday, it can be more practical to pack a kit bag and make up the formula milk away from home. Plenty of places like cafes and restaurants and so on are completely happy to provide hot water for you. For a day trip, try preparing your own thermos flask of hot water in the morning. Use sterilised containers to carry the milk powder and take pre-sterilised bottles.

Whenever, you’re hungry little bundle needs a feed you'll soon be an expert in preparing baby bottles in no time at all!



[1]. Sterilising bottle-feeding equipment, Baby Centre, November 2017

[2]. Types of formula milk, NHS, October 2016