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    Home ›› How to bottle feed a baby

    Home ›› How to bottle feed a baby

    How to bottle feed a baby the right way


    Reading time: 8 mins


    Feeding is such a special and important part of early parenthood that it’s no wonder we want to get it right. It’s a natural process, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy! That’s why you’re not alone if you’re wondering when to introduce a bottle, how often to bottle feed a newborn and what healthy bottle feeding looks like.

    Whether you’re bottle feeding from the beginning or you’re combining both bottle and breast, we can give you advice on how to bottle feed a baby. Bear in mind that we’re no substitute for a medical professional who knows your specific situation, though. If you have any remaining questions or concerns about how to properly bottle feed a newborn, don’t hesitate to contact your GP or a healthcare professional.

    Bottle feeding a baby: the basics


    Let’s get back to basics on how to bottle feed your child. How much and how often to bottle feed a newborn depends on your child’s weight and growth spurts, as well as their age.

    o You can introduce a bottle at around six weeks when both you and your baby have established a good breastfeeding routine. Start by introducing a small amount of breast milk in a bottle between regular feeds. Your baby shouldn’t be as hungry, making it an excellent time to practice.   

    The best way to learn how often to bottle feed your newborn is to feed only when they’re hungry – which means learning to spot your baby’s hunger cues. The length of each feed will vary depending on each individual baby, but they generally don’t take longer than 30 minutes. 

    Bottle feeding a baby: what you need


    When it comes to bottle feeding, there are a few must-have items that you should stock up on: bottles and nipples. Learning how to bottle feed a baby begins with choosing the right bottle for your baby so that they can feed efficiently and safely. With so many choices of bottles and nipples, we know this decision can feel overwhelming at times.

    It’s important to choose a nipple with the right-sized hole for your baby. You can choose slow, medium or fast flow nipples. A newborn baby will generally need a gentle, slow flow, but every baby’s feeding needs differ regardless of age. Try to observe your baby’s cues to understand which bottle nipple is most suitable.

    The Philips Avent Natural Response baby bottle closely reproduces the breast’s natural look, feel and function. Between the breast-shaped design and unique bottle nipple and tip to release milk, you can easily recreate your little one’s own drinking rhythm experienced on the breast: drink, swallow, breathe and pause. Milk is released from the ultra-soft bottle nipple only when your baby actively drinks, triggered by compressing the bottle nipple. Combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding can be a smooth and easy process.

    What you need

    How to make up your baby’s bottle


    The first step in learning how to bottle feed your baby is knowing how to make up the bottle. Before you begin, clean and sterilise your baby’s bottle either with a commercial steriliser or with a pan and boiling water.

    Once you’ve cleaned the bottle, the surface you’ll be using and your hands, follow these steps to make up your baby’s bottle with formula, or skip to the end of the list if you’re using expressed breast milk:1


    1. Boil the water. If you’re using a pan, ensure that the water comes to a rolling boil. The water should be at least 70°C when you make up the formula, so don’t let it cool for more than 30 minutes after boiling.

    2. Read the formula packaging instructions. If you’re feeding your baby formula, refer to the instructions provided on the packaging to know how much water and powder you need.

    3.  Mix the formula and water together. Add the water to the bottle first, then the specified amount of formula. Mix it thoroughly by gently shaking the bottle.

    4. Immediately cool the bottle. Once you have mixed the formula and water, hold the bottle under cold running water to cool it down to feeding temperature. Ensure that the water you’re using to cool it doesn’t touch the bottle’s nipple, to avoid contaminating the feed. You can dry the bottle with a clean towel after you’ve cooled it.

    5. Check the temperature. Drip a little formula onto the inside of your wrist to check the temperature. The liquid should be lukewarm. If it’s not, simply run it under some more cold water until it has reached the desired temperature.


    If you’re bottle feeding your baby with expressed breast milk, it’s fine for them to drink it cold. If they prefer it warm, though, you can warm the bottle by putting it in a bowl or jug of warm water, or by holding it under warm running water. Again, make sure the water doesn’t touch the nipple of the bottle, and follow step 5 to make sure the milk isn’t too hot.2


    Alternatively, save time and use a bottle warmer to prepare perfectly warmed feeds in minutes. The smart temperature control prevents milk and baby food from overheating and can also defrost frozen breast milk.

    Learn the proper bottle-feeding technique


    Now you’ve made up your bottle and you’re ready to get started, it’s time to learn how to bottle feed a baby the right way. Here are a few things you can do to help get your baby to take the bottle:3


    • Stay with your baby. To make sure your baby feeds safely, never leave your baby alone with a bottle.
    • Hold your baby semi-upright. Your baby’s head should be above their body for a comfortable feed. You can make good eye contact in this position to instil a sense of trust and confidence between you and your baby.
    • Introduce the nipple. Tilt the bottle so that the neck and teat fill up with milk before you place the nipple in your baby’s mouth; this helps to prevent swallowing any air bubbles, which could cause gas. Bring the nipple to your baby’s lips and gently guide it into his or her mouth. 
    • Keep the bottle more or less horizontal. Tip the bottle a little, but just a little, to keep the teat supplied with milk. You want to make sure there’s a steady flow of milk, so your baby doesn’t try to drink air, but you also want to prevent the milk from flowing too fast.
    • Burp during and after. After the feed, hold your baby upright and give their back some gentle pats or rubs, to help release any trapped air. Your baby may also want to be burped if they take a break while being fed. 
    • Throw the rest away. When your baby starts turning their head away from the bottle or closes their mouth, it means the feeding is over. Throw away any remaining milk or formula that is left in the bottle. 

    In addition to those above tips, try the following bottle-feeding positions to find the most comfortable one for you and baby:


    • Cradle hold. Place your baby in the crook of your arm and support the head while tilting their body in a slightly leaned-back position. Ensure that your newborn’s chin isn’t tilting towards their chest before feeding.
    • Sitting up. In this position, hold your baby in a sitting position on your lap with their back against your chest. If your baby has reflux symptoms, this is also a great position to help prevent spitting up.
    • Bent legs. If you’re after some extra face time with your baby, this may be just the position for you. Place your baby on your lap, facing you, with their feet against your stomach. Bottle feed your little one while enjoying additional bonding time face-to-face.


    If you’re having difficulties feeding, you’ll need to learn what to do when a baby refuses a bottle. You can also contact your child’s doctor with any questions or concerns, especially if you think your baby might have reflux symptoms.

    Remember, bottle feeding takes patience.


    Learning how to bottle feed a baby may feel a bit intimidating at first. But with a little preparation, organisation and patience, you’ll soon discover what works for you and your baby.

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