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Tips on Bottle Nursing a Baby

Updated on October 31, 2013

You have made the decision to bottle feed your baby. There are many different items and brands available to help you. You will need to determine which are best for your baby and learn how to use them. There are other things to learn, too, like how to hold your baby for feeding and how to burp your baby. Let's take a look at what you need to know to successfully bottle feed your baby.

How to Choose a Bottle & Nipple

There are an abundance of types of both bottles and nipples available for use. In choosing a bottle, parents must consider if they want a glass or plastic bottle system. Glass bottles are the most durable and will last the longest. Plastic bottles have the benefit of being lighter in weight, and there are also plastic bottles with disposable plastic inserts that make clean up very easy. If plastic is chosen, BPA (bisphenol A) free is recommended. After you have decided which type of bottle you will use, purchase at least a dozen of that type to be sure you have enough.

Nipples are also available in various styles in both rubber and silicone. They may be flat or more pointed, and they have different size holes in them to regulate the flow of milk from slow to fast. The recommended nipple design is that which resembles a natural nipple. Again, once you have decided on a nipple, purchase at least a dozen of them. Nipples will get worn and crack with use. They will need to be replaced periodically.

While much information is available on the different types of bottles and nipples available, the decision ultimately comes down to what mother and baby are most comfortable using. To be on the safe side, ask friends and family members what type they used and what they would recommend. Then, use that information along with the details provided here to make your choice.

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How to Choose the Right Formula for Your Baby

There are three basic types of formula available: milk-based, soy-based, and specialty formulas. Milk-based formula is made with cow's milk. Soy-based formula is made from soy beans and is a good alternative for parents wanting to exclude animal proteins from the diet or for those babies allergic to cow's milk or who have lactose intolerance. Specialty formulas are designed for those babies who are allergic to or unable to tolerate milk or soy formulas. Specialty formulas contain proteins that have been broken down for easy digestion.

To determine which formula is right for your baby, ask your pediatrician for a recommendation. This gives you a place to start. Unless your baby develops vomiting, diarrhea, rash or any other sign of allergy to the formula, you will not need to change.

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How to Hold Your Baby for Feeding

When feeding your baby it is important to be sure that the head is slightly elevated. This makes it easier for your baby to eat and swallow. The head should rest between the middle of your upper arm and your shoulder. Support your baby's body by curving your arm around its back with your hand firmly around the baby's bottom. This position allows both parent and baby to gaze at each other while feeding.

Position the bottle in your baby's mouth. Hold the bottle at a downward angle so that both the nipple and the section of bottle nearest the baby's mouth are filled with formula. This will prevent your baby from ingesting air and developing gas or stomach discomfort.

Feeding your baby is one of the most intimate times you will share. The bond between parent and child is strengthened during this time. Be sure to enjoy this special closeness!

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Over the shoulder burpingSitting up burping
Over the shoulder burping
Over the shoulder burping | Source
Sitting up burping
Sitting up burping | Source

How to Burp Your Baby

Babies naturally ingest both formula and air when eating. Your baby will need to be burped during and after each feeding. Newborns need to be burped after each 1/2 ounce of feeding; older babies should be burped after each 2 ounces of feeding. During feeding, resume feeding after the burp or after two minutes of attempting to burp.

The following are three of the most common methods of burping a baby. Some basic steps are necessary with all three methods. First, whenever burping your baby, lay a burp cloth over the area where baby's head and mouth will be to catch any spit up that may occur while burping. Next, once in the burping position, you will firmly pat or rub your baby's back for up to two minutes or until you hear a burp. Not all baby's burp; and not all baby's burp all of the time. With time, you will get to know your baby.

Probably the most common method of burping is baby is over the shoulder. This is a comfortable position for both parent and baby. Gently hold your baby up to your shoulder. Proceed with burping your baby.

Another method of burping is to position the baby in a sitting position on your lap. For newborns, it is important to support the chin with the thumb and forefinger due to the weak neck. While your baby is sitting in this position, proceed with burping your baby.

Some parents like to lay the baby on the lap on its tummy. By crossing the legs before laying the baby down, the head of the baby will be elevated on the higher leg. Proceed with burping your baby. This technique is demonstrated in the video below.

How to Know When Your Baby is Full

Because your baby cannot tell you when he is full, it is important to watch for signs. Your baby will push the nipple out of his mouth or just quit sucking when he has had enough. He may turn his head away from the nipple. Your baby may fall asleep when full. All of these signs are good indicators that your baby has had enough to eat.

How to Tell if Your Baby is Eating Enough

You will know that your baby is getting enough to eat by monitoring diaper changes and making regular visits to the pediatrician. You should expect your baby to have several wet diapers and 1-2 bowel movements daily. Visits to your pediatrician will measure growth of your baby at regular intervals. If your baby is growing appropriately and needing diaper changes he is getting enough to eat.

Bottle Feeding a Baby - Video


Feeding your baby is important for both nutrition and bonding. It can also be one of the most pleasant times you share. With a little preparation you will be able to bottle feed your baby easily. In response to your loving care, get ready to watch your baby grow!


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    • jlpark profile image

      Jacqui 3 years ago from New Zealand

      I thought I'd read it! And I had - was definately a helpful hub - wee bean is a bottle fed bub - initially EBM and now exclusively formula. Thank you for this hub - whilst some of it may seem simple - there are so many things to learn in the beginning, all the advice on making things simple is necessary. Thank you for this hub and all it's advice

    • jlpark profile image

      Jacqui 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for this. Hoping to be able to breast feed when this little Bean arrives shortly, but have been informed a surgery I had may make exclusive feeding an impossibility if I am able to manage it at all - so, all I want is a happy, well nourished wee one so bottle it may be - this will be very helpful! Thanks

    • swilliams profile image

      Emunah La Paz 3 years ago from Arizona

      What an adorable baby! Very insightful and useful article. Very helpful for babies and moms! Voted useful and interesting. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Carlajbehr 3 years ago

      Congratulations on HOTD! Thank you for writing this - there is so much squabbling today over breast or bottle feeding and I think doing what's right for your baby and yourself is most important. I was most successful at bottle feeding.

    • profile image

      afreed 3 years ago

      Great article,thanks.....

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      So glad you feel it will be useful to others! Thanks!

    • slappywalker profile image

      Kieron Walker 5 years ago from Saratoga Springs, NY

      This brought back memories for me. I was so clueless when my daughter was born. I remember how proud I was when I finally mastered my burping technique.

      Thanks for writing this. A ton of parents will appreciate it.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Glad you found it helpful!

    • jackdowney profile image

      jackdowney 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      useful tips for my infant son :)

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Glad you found it useful. Thanks for your kind comments!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I am a childbirth educator, and feel breastfeeding moms can benefit from this hub too. Because they can pump their milk and have someone else in the household feed their newborn, or they can when they have sore nipples.

      Great hub, full of wonderful ideas. New moms and dads and usually overwhelmed, and having a hub like yours will benefit them greatly.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thanks for the read and your comments!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      Great hub, very informative. Sometimes feeding a baby is just not as easy as it looks, you give great examples and detailed explanations.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thanks for reading and your kind comments!

    • noellenichols profile image

      Noelle 5 years ago from Denver

      Wow, very informational. I really like the formatting you used.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thanks! Yes, it is an exclusive.

    • Learning in Life profile image

      Megan Sisko 5 years ago from SW Florida

      Great hub! Was this an exclusive title?