How often should I feed my baby?
As with breastfeeding, most experts agree that you shouldn’t follow a rigid schedule in the early weeks, though you may be able to work out an approximate pattern for feeding within a month or so. Offer a bottle every two to three hours at first, or as your baby seems hungry.
When your baby is about a month old, she’ll be ready to eat on a schedule. Formula-fed infants tend to be heavier than breastfed babies, so following a feeding schedule can help prevent them from overeating.
Feed your baby once every three to four hours. Until she reaches about 10 pounds, she’ll probably take 1.5 to 3 ounces per feeding. Don’t force her to take more than she seems ready to eat. Your baby’s doctor can advise you about how much your baby should eat as she grows.
Do I need to sterilize the bottles?
Doctors used to advise sterilizing bottle-feeding supplies back when the safety of water supplies was less reliable. This isn’t as much of a concern now, but it’s best to play it safe and ask your child’s doctor if she thinks sterilization is necessary.
If your doctor recommends sterilizing your supplies before the first use, submerge new bottles, nipples, and rings in a pot of boiling water for at least five minutes. Then let them air dry on a clean towel. After that, a good hand-washing with soapy water or a cycle through the dishwasher is sufficient. (You can find handy bottle gear – such as drying racks and dishwasher baskets for nipples, rings, and bottle caps – online or at baby supply stores.)
If you have well water, or if your local health department says your tap water is unsafe for drinking, you’ll probably need to sterilize bottles before every use.
A note about plastics: Some studies have found that plastic baby bottles contain chemicals which may leach into the formula, especially when the bottle is heated. You can avoid this risk by using bottles made of stainless steel or glass. If you decide to use plastic bottles, don’t boil them, heat them in the microwave, or wash them in the dishwasher. Instead, hand wash them with a bottle brush and warm, soapy water. Learn more about the safety of plastic baby bottles.
Do I need to sterilize my drinking water for making formula?
Many parents do sterilize the water used to mix formula, especially in the newborn months, but you don’t need to unless your child’s doctor recommends it. However, if you use well water or your tap water is unsafe for drinking, you’ll need to sterilize it or use bottled water for mixing formula.
If you do choose to boil the water you use to mix formula, save yourself time by preparing enough in the morning for the whole day. Bring cold water to a rolling boil and let it boil for just one minute. Let it cool to room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes, mix enough formula for the next 24 hours, and refrigerate it immediately. Discard any formula that isn’t used within 24 hours.
What’s the best way to warm a bottle?
There’s no health reason to warm formula, though your baby may prefer it. When you’re ready to feed your baby, you can warm a bottle in a bowl of hot – not boiling – water, or by running it under the tap. You can also buy a bottle warmer designed for this purpose. Always test the formula by shaking a few drops on the inside of your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot for your baby.
If your baby is accustomed to drinking bottles at room temperature or slightly cold, you save yourself the time and hassle of preheating bottles, especially when she’s crying to be fed right now.
Caution: Never use a microwave to heat a bottle of formula. A microwave heats unevenly, so it can create hot pockets and lead to burns. Microwave heating can also cause the nutrients in formula to break down. Also, if you use plastic bottles, warm formula by putting the bottle in a bowl of warm – not hot – water or run it under warm water.