If you have chosen to not exclusively breast feed your baby for 6 months and want to give him/her the bottle, do so without guilt. The most important ingredient while getting a baby to bottle feed is love. Bottle-feeding can also mimic breast-feeding where there is ample contact between the mother and the child.
Studies have shown that cuddling and skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the child while feeding is associated with rapid brain development in babies and a sense of security. Contact is one of the most important things to be kept in mind while bottle feeing. Often mothers are tempted to take short cuts while feeding the baby a bottle and thus end up compromising on contact. Here are some steps to follow while bottle feeding your child.
How To Bottle Feed a Baby
Never Prop the Baby
When you are giving the baby a bottle, make sure he/she is closely cuddled in your arms with his/her head next to your chest, supporting the bottle with your one hand. For hungry babies who are looking forward to some food and emotional gratification in the form of hugging and cuddling, propping can be quite unsatisfying. A small baby should never be allowed to hold the bottle on his/her own while being propped. There are always chances of choking, as the baby has not yet perfected the suckling action. Do not make the baby have the bottle, flat on his back as this may put him/her at risk of ear infection. The best thing to do is to hold the baby snugly in the arms in a semi-reclining position and hold the bottle for the baby with one hand. Never leave the baby with a bottle even in later months. Babies who sleep with bottles in their mouth may be more at risk of tooth decay.
If possible, open your shirt and allow the baby to feel the warmth of your skin while he/she has the bottle. This will promote satisfaction and contentment. Even dads can cuddle their babies cheek to cheek as the baby drinks from the bottle.
It is important to change positions and switch arms while the baby is breast-feeding. This will allow you to get relief from aching arms and will allow your baby to see his/her environment from a different perspective.
Let Baby Decide When to Stop
Take your cues from the baby when his/her tummy is full. Do not push the baby or force the baby to consume a full 120 ml bottle of milk if he/she is not feeling up to it. A healthy baby will know when to stop. Over feeding the baby will only lead to obesity.
Take your Time
Let the baby suckle the bottle at his/her pace. You can provide the baby with nipples, which have smaller holes to promote longer sucking satisfaction. Sometimes babies sleep while feeding. In that case, you can snuggle the baby for some time. Do interact with the baby socially once he/she has finished suckling. If you cannot breast feed your child, do not feel guilty about it. Treasure the experience of bottle-feeding as well.