Saturday, February 16, 2019

The First Few Days of Bottle-feeding Your Baby

Life with a new baby can be daunting as well as exciting. Ideally, you would have someone (e.g., your husband or mother) to stay with you for the first two weeks or so, until you have got used to the responsibility of caring for your baby on your own. During this time you should:
  • rest as much as possible
  • keep visitors to a minimum
  • share the care of your baby - you don't have to do everything to be a good mother!

Plan ahead

Well before your baby is due, you should unpack all your feeding equipment, read the relevant instructions and make sure that both you and your husband know how it all works. Your baby may want to feed as soon as you get home from the hospital and you will quickly get stressed if he is crying for food and you don't know how to prepare his bottle. Ideally, your husband will get everything set up before he collects you from the hospital so that at least one bottle is available for immediate use. You may want to use cartons of ready-made formula for the first few feeds until you get fully organized.

When your baby is born

Most babies want to feed very shortly after the birth, and your midwife will advise you when he is ready. She will give you a bottle of ready-made formula (which does not need warming), and your baby will almost certainly know how to suck and take as much milk as he wants. He should then settle quickly to sleep. This is what to expect:
  • He will only drink small amounts at first - about 10-30 ml (less than 1 oz) - and will gradually increase his intake as he starts needing more. Let him decide how much he wants.
  • If he swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid during the birth, he may be a bit `mucusy' and vomit back some of the milk. This is normal, and he will stop doing this once he has cleared his stomach -usually within 24 hours.
  • He may not want to feed much within the first 24 hours, but after this, he should feed roughly every three to four hours.
  • You should offer him a new bottle at each feed - do not keep using the same bottle until he has finished it. This is unhygienic and potentially harmful as it allows bacteria to multiply.
  • If he is getting enough milk, he should settle well after feeds and have at least six wet nappies a day.

Note: If you give birth at home all of the above still applies, apart from the fact that you will have to provide your own bottles of formula.


Giving birth is tiring, and you need time to recover. Try to relax when you first get home rather than rushing around catching up on housework, cooking, etc. Allow others to help, and try to fit in a daytime nap.


It's very exciting having a new baby to show off, but don't overdo it! Having lots of visitors will not only make you very tired but might also unsettle your baby if he is forever being cuddled (or photographed) when he should be feeding or sleeping. A baby that is overtired or made to wait too long for feeds will soon become unsettled, and you may set the trend for disruptive days and nights.

Of course, you will want family and close friends to come and see your baby, but it is a good idea to agree with your husband in advance how long you want them to stay. He can then be the one to ask them to leave if they are staying too long. Many visitors think that they should stay a long time to show sufficient interest in the new baby, so it is helpful for them (as well as you), to know how long the visit should last.

Midwives and health visitors

All mothers and babies must be seen regularly by a community midwife for the first ten days after the birth, after which time she hands over to a health visitor. The midwife should visit you within 24 hours of you coming home, agree when she will next come to see you and give you her contact details if you need to see or speak to her earlier than that. Her role is to check your health and make sure that your uterus is contracting back down after birth. She will also carry out routine tests on your baby, weigh him, and advise you if you are having feeding or any other problems. If she thinks it necessary, she may carry on visiting you beyond day 10.

Your health visitor will usually call on or around day 10. She will give you a booklet in which to keep records of your baby's development, weight, etc., and tell you where your nearest baby clinic is and how to get hold of her should you need to. She is the one who will give you more general advice on baby care, check that your baby is reaching his milestones, and tell you when he needs his injections, hearing tests, etc.


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