If you are one of the mums out there who was unable to breastfeed when your baby was first born or have decided that it simply isn't right for you and switched to formula- you will fall into the bottle feeding category. Just like breastfeeding, it has its ups and downs and it’s certainly not the easy option. If you are planning to bottle feed or are in the early stages of doing so, here are my top tips as a mama who has done it twice over.
Always, always, always have more bottles than you think you need: Chances are, you will get caught out if you don’t. This applies to when you leave the house, but similarly if you aren’t going anywhere too. Make sure you have an extra couple in your mam bag and some in the fridge to allow for if your baby gets extra hungry, you are out longer than you plan to be or you drop one on the floor. Yes, all of these have happened to me and it’s not fun listening to a screaming baby while you sterilise a replacement or are bombing it back in the car to get to your supply because you didn’t take enough with you. We’ve found 12 bottles is about right, as you can divide these between the bag, the fridge, the steriliser and the dishwasher.
Don’t fall for gimmicks: Bottles that promise to alleviate wind are usually a con in my experience. They are harder to clean, are extremely expensive and deliver the same results as a normal, cheaper bottle. The sad fact is- bottle fed babies get wind and nothing will prevent this or make it better other than a good back rub after feeding.
Always buy new machines: Prep machines are great if you want milk making fast and don’t want the faff of boiling a kettle but they can also get dirty like anything else that has water sitting in it for prolonged periods. Make sure your machine is new as you don't know how long the previous owner let it stand for before listing it on a second hand site.
Don't take any stick from breastfeeding mums: You are both feeding your babies- the method in which you do this does not matter- as long as they are getting the nutrition they need is all that counts. If you have friends who judge you on this basis, it may be time to distance yourself from them because how you feed your baby is, quite frankly none of their business.
Don’t put your bottles in the dishwasher with tomatoey sauces: If you choose to run your bottles through the dishwasher before you sterilise them, be mindful of what you are washing them with. Hold the pan you used to cook bolognese in back until the following wash cycle or all your bottles will turn orange! It is the parenting equivalent of putting a pink sock in with your whites- don’t do it!
Keep an eye on the teats: Most bottles will require a teat refresh every three months or so. As your baby grows, they will demand a faster flow so they can drink their milk quickly, especially when they move onto solids. Check what size teat they should be on for their age or they might get bored of having to suck too hard on a teat that is designed for a younger mouth, which can leave them dehydrated or undernourished.
Process your bottles as you go: Don’t leave a huge stack of them for cleaning later mainly because they get really smelly after their recommended hour of use. Plus, you might think you have more than you do only to find that you don’t- so keep on top of them and you won’t be caught out.
Bottles and all the detritus needed to make one up are cumbersome and a nuisance sometimes but you only need to carry all of this around with you to feed your baby for a short space of time. It does get easier and lighter too- I promise!