Both of my children have been/are being bottle-fed. I started with breastfeeding with my elder daughter, but swapped to bottles after a month.
Neither method of feeding is easy, and both have people who judge. The last time I had people tell me off for not giving my daughter the best start in life and for being lazy. It made me feel bad as a mom, but I had to learn to deal with the criticism. Everyone is a critic, but they have no idea behind the reasoning for making decisions.
I can’t give many tips on breastfeed—except to tickle the baby’s feet to keep him or her awake—but I can offer tips on bottle-feeding. Here are my top six.
Stick to the Same Bottles
There’s no point going out and buying all the different brands of bottles. Find a brand and stick with it. The only time I’d suggest switching brands if it is for a bottle that offers something specific; like Dr. Brown colic bottles.
We nearly went out and bought a new brand of bottles because we believed our second daughter was suffering from colic. It turn out that she possibly isn’t, as she can settle herself while crying; when my elder daughter had colic, she couldn’t. We’ve borrowed some colic bottles, but they made no difference. I’m really glad that we didn’t end up forking out for them, because they can cost a lot.
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We’ve stuck to Tommee Tippee bottles throughout. They’re were the cheapest when we originally got them, and the teets are available from all supermarkets, so there’s never a problem in getting the next size up. There is also a colic addition if it’s really needed, but we’ve never bothered with that.
Don’t Bother With Special Formulas
There are three different formula brands here in the UK. All of them have special formulas, as well as the infant milk. They have hungry baby, comfort and anti-reflux brands.
With our elder daughter, we bought the comfort Aptamil milk for her colic. Did it make any difference? I’m honestly not that sure. But we’d committed to it and stuck to it, despite it costing us around £2.50 more per tub.
With our younger daughter, we’ve stuck to the normal infant milk. When speaking to our health visitor, she advised us not to make a change to the other types of milk. Apparently, the special formulas don’t do any different, especially the one for hungrier babies. Really, we can just make up more formula to feed our daughter if she needs it; she hasn’t so far.
The special formulas end up being a waste of money. The only time we’ve been advised to switch formula is to switch brands, as some can cause tummy upsets. Daughter number 1 struggled with Cow & Gate, but daughter number 2 happily takes it.
Accept People Will Criticise
The best thing to do when you decide to bottle-feed, is to accept that people will judge or criticise you for your
decision. No, they really shouldn’t, but they do. Rather than getting hurt about it, accept it and ignore them. They’re not worth your time.
Others just don’t understand our reasonings for bottle-feeding. I had to with my first because breastfeeding (and really struggling with it) was affecting my mental health. With my second, I decided I wasn’t going to go through with that and jumped straight to the formula. Maybe second time round it would have been easier, but I didn’t want to risk the postnatal depression that I nearly had with my first.
There are health reasons people will switch to bottles. You may be on medication that means you can’t breastfeed or have another illness that stops you. If you had an emergency c-section and a large blood loss, your milk supply may not come through enough to feed your baby fully, so you need the formula for top ups until it happens.
Don’t be ashamed. You’re looking after your baby in the best way that you see fit. As long as he or she is fed and looked after, what’s the problem?
Set Up a System
The formula tubs say that you should make up each bottle as you need it. After doing some research, I found that making them up in bulk and storing them in the fridge was still okay to do. It’s not as good as making them up as and when required, but it makes life a little more liveable for all of us.
Whatever you decide to do, setting up a system is definitely something that will make bottle-feeding a lot easier. I’m not sure why people say that bottle-feeding is lazy, if I’m honest. There’s the washing and sterilising of the bottles, making up the feeds and getting them to the right temperature. It’s not easy work, and when out and about it can be even harder!
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Our system is simple. I make up four bottles at a time but have 12 bottles in circulation at the moment. It will soon drop to six because six of them are smaller bottles and only hold up to 150ml and I’ll eventually need 180ml and more. Right now, once I have at least four bottles finished, I will wash them up and pop them in the steriliser. Once the bottles in the fridge are down to the last one, I’ll make up another four and pop them in the fridge behind the one left from the last batch.
Routines help me function, and this routine means I know I always have a bottle just 5-minutes heating away. If I am going out and will need more, I’ll change the routine slightly to ensure I have enough for my daughter.
That being said, we have tubs of ready to go formula in the cupboards. Usually, these are for travelling long distances where we can’t heat up the bottles or store them in a fridge, but they are also great in the event of an emergency.
Wind Throughout Feeding
Some parents leave it to the last drop to wind their babies. This isn’t a good idea! I’ve found out this the hard way with my elder daughter.
It’s best to wind every so often throughout feeding. I tend to do it every 20-30mls, as that usually puts enough food on my daughter’s stomach but collects enough wind to need to get up. If she needs winding more often, she’ll tell me through actions like spitting the bottle or the milk out.
There are different ways to wind. I prefer sitting my daughter on my lap, gently holding the sides of her face and rubbing/patting her back. Some people prefer to do it over their shoulders. My husband has taken up laying her along his arm on her stomach and patting her back that way. That really helps to get her to stretch out her stomach so all the wind comes up.
Always have a bib or muslin ready for winding. You never know when some spit up will join in with the gas.
Bond During Feeding Time
Breastfeeding is often touted as the best way to bond with your little one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it with bottle-feeding. Your little one will look up at you, and I find it so important to look her in the eyes and pay attention to her while feeding.
It can be a boring time; I know I’ll get some judgment from that comment. Feeding can take anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour in this house because of our little miss acting out or deciding to take long gaps between breaks. It’s common to find something else to do, like watch the TV or check your phone.
Paying attention will help you bond, but it also gives you the chance to make sure your little one is actually taking the milk. You can look for cues that he or she needs to burp, or that there are other problems at this time.
Hopefully this will help you with your bottle-feeding. You’re not lazy and it certainly does not make you less of a mom/dad. You’re caring for your child in the best way you see fit, and you deserve to enjoy this time. Good luck!
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I'm Alexandria Ingham, and am a work at home mommy and full-time freelance writer. Writing has always been a passion from a young age, but it was only in 2009 that I decided to use it to make money online. Since then, I've managed to make a career out of it and don't regret it. While history and weight loss are two of my favorite topics, I love writing about absolutely anything and even have fictional pieces in the works.