Preparing feeds safely
Formula milk comes in two forms: powder and ‘ready-to-feed’ (in cartons).
Babies are at risk from dangerous infections caused by bacteria if the feed is not prepared safely, so always follow these important steps:
- Wash your hands carefully.
- Clean and disinfect the surface you will be using.
- Sterilise the bottle and teat.
If you are using powdered formula milk:
- Use fresh tap water to fill the kettle (don’t use water that has already been boiled)
- Boil the kettle, then let it cool for no more than 30 minutes.
- Pour the cooled water into the bottle.
- Loosely fill the powder scoop with milk powder and level it.
- Add the milk powder to the water (add as many scoops as it says on the tin).
- Holding the teat by the edge, put it on the bottle. Screw on the ring and cover the teat with a cap.
- Shake the bottle until the powder dissolves.
- Hold the bottle under cold running water to cool it down so it is the right temperature for your baby. You can test the temperature by dropping a little milk onto the inside of your wrist. If it feels hot, put it back under the tap. If it feels warm, it will be OK
- If the milk is too cold, warm it by standing the bottle in some hot water.
Three important things to remember:
- If your baby doesn’t finish the feed, always throw away any unfinished formula within two hours. This is to stop bacteria multiplying and making your baby ill (bacteria can even multiply if you keep the bottle in the fridge).
- Never heat up a bottle in the microwave. This is really dangerous because even if the outside feels cold, the milk inside may be very hot and may burn your baby’s mouth.
- Always use the amount of powder that it says on the tin. Adding extra could make your baby thirsty or constipated. Adding less could mean he doesn’t get enough to eat.
Top tips for bottle feeding
- Cuddle your baby in your arms when you feed her with a bottle.
- Feed your baby when he shows you he is hungry, and don’t try to force him to finish a bottle if he’s had enough
- Keep the teat full of milk, so that your baby does not take in air (which will give her wind)
- Be patient: your baby may fall asleep in the middle of the feed, and wake up wanting more milk.
- At the end of the feed, hold your baby upright and gently rub or pat his back to bring up any wind.
- In hot weather, a bottlefed baby may be thirsty in between feeds. You can give her cooled boiled tap water to drink.
How to sterilise a baby bottle and teat
To make sure the bottle and teat are absolutely clean and safe, you need to sterilise them every time you use them. Here’s how:
- Clean the bottle and teat in hot soapy water as soon as you can after giving the feed.
- Rinse the bottle and teat under cold running water.
- Put the bottle and teat in a sterilising solution for at least 30 minutes. Push them under the water to make sure there is no air trapped. You make a sterilising solution using a sterilising chemical that you can buy at a chemist’s.
- Put the bottle and teat face down in a steam steriliser (either and electric one, or one you put in the microwave).