six bottle-feeding basics:
getting started with formula or expressed milk

dad bottle feeding his baby

Your hungry newborn has three choices: breast milk, expressed breast milk or formula. Cow’s milk isn’t easy for little tummies to digest, so it’s off the menu for your baby’s first year. Formula milk is either powered or ready-to-use.

If you decide that bottle-feeding[1] is the right option for you and your baby, or if you plan to use expressed breast milk, here’s what you need to know:


what sort of formula milk should i feed my baby?

There are several different brands of infant formula. Your midwife or health visitor may be able to recommend a certain type, or you can go with whichever one is sold in your local shop, so it’s easier to get hold of if your supplies suddenly run low.


what feeding bottles do i need?

Choose a bottle that’s easy to keep clean, and if you’re mostly bottle-feeding, invest in a few. Teats are available in different ‘flow rates’ – from a slow steady flow for newborns, to a faster speed to suit the stronger suck of an older baby – so you can buy according to your baby’s age.


do i need any other equipment?

A steriliser is essential, giving you peace of mind that your bottles are squeaky clean. As you need to wash bottles before popping them in the steriliser, a dedicated bottle brush will be needed too. If you’re expressing, you’ll need a manual or electric breast pump.


how much milk do i feed my baby?

Your newborn has a tiny tummy, so little and often is best. They’ll let you know when they’re hungry (in no uncertain terms!) and will also turn away from the bottle when they’re full. If your baby is steadily gaining weight, then you’re feeding them the right amount.


how do i give my baby the bottle?

Make sure you’re comfortable, then rest your baby’s head in the crook of your arm, taking care that their head is higher than their tummy. Gently touch their lower lip with the teat, and they’ll instinctively take it in their mouth. Angle the bottle so the teat fills with milk.


how do i prevent wind?

If the teat has air as well as milk in it, your baby will be enthusiastically sucking this in too, filling their little tummy with uncomfortable wind. To make sure they’re comfy, ‘wind’ your baby after a feed by propping them upright and gently rubbing their back until they burp (often surprisingly loudly).[2]


[1]. Bottle feeding advice, NHS, February 2018

[2]. How can I ease my baby's wind, BabyCentre, February 2018