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How to bottlefeed – bottlefeeding basics

Bottlefeeding babyThis is our basic bottlefeeding 101, designed to give you a quick overview of the equipment you will need to get and the different methods of sterilising.

Your child health nurse will be able to assist you with feeding routines and the amount of formula to give your baby – information particular to your baby’s needs.

Bottlefeeding equipment

Bottle-feeding parents will need equipment such as:

  • bottles with caps
  • teats
  • measuring & mixing equipment (scoop, knife, measuring jug & funnel)
  • sterilising equipment
  • formula
  • bottle & teat brushes for cleaning
  • insulated bottle carrier
  • feeding pillow

Most of these items are widely available from general baby nursery shops, local pharmacies and supermarkets.  See also our directory for online baby bottle and accessory specialist retailers and general suppliers of baby feeding equipment (scroll down to the ‘feeding’ section).

Bottlefeeding essentials

Bottles must be made up following the good hygiene rules EVERY time.

  • good hygiene is vital in preparing bottlefeeds – ensure that you always wash your hands and thoroughly clean and sterilise all equipment used in preparing a feed
  • feed must always be mixed exactly as stated on the packaging
  • store pre-mixed feeds in the centre of the fridge – not in the fridge door
  • if you are taking a bottle out with the formula pre-mixed in the bottle, ensure that the contents are icy cold and transported in an insulated container and only heated when needed
  • once mixed, formula at room temperature must be used within an hour or discarded or you run the risk of food poisoning occuring
  • heat the bottle by placing the pre-mixed formula-filled bottle in a pan of hot water until the milk is about blood temperature (put a drop from the bottle onto the inside of your wrist, if it feels neither hot or cold, it should be the correct temperature)
  • it is not recommended to heat bottles in a microwave – but if you have no alternative, ensure that you shake the bottle thoroughly before testing the temperature – microwaves do not always heat evenly and can leave ‘hot spots’ in the milk that could burn your baby
  • never leave a baby alone with a bottle
  • throw out and split or cracked bottles or teats

Sterlising equipment

Until your baby is at least a year old, all equipment used in preparing a bottle must be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised before use.  Baby’s are very vulnerable to bacteria and viruses and gastro illnesses can be very serious in young babies.

Wash new and used bottles in warm, soapy water and brush the inside of the bottle and teat to remove any residue using specialist bottle and teat brushes.   Rinse any soap residue off with clean water.  You must then sterilise the equipment prior to use.  Once sterilised, you must store the equipment in a sterilised container before use.

There are three main methods of sterilising equipment:

  • use an electric or microwave steam steriliser – readily available from nursery stores and pharmacies
  • use a sterilising solution – sterilising tablets are dissolved in water; equipment to be sterilised is soaked in the solution according to the instructions on the package.  Tablets are readily available in pharmacies and supermarkets
  • boil in clean, hot water for at least 10 minutes

More information

If you have concerns about any feeding issues, consult your local doctor or child health nurse.

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