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Bottle-feeding Your Baby

Getting off to a healthy start with bottle-feeding.

We have highlighted some of the most requested topics related to bottle-feeding to help you, if you have chosen to bottle-feed your baby.

Which formula?

Your pediatrician can help you select the formula that is right for your baby. Don't change your baby's formula without first consulting your pediatrician.

If you need a pediatrician for your baby, use our PhysicianFinder, or learn about Physicians Clinic locations near you.

How long should my baby be fed formula?

Keep your baby on breast milk or infant formula until he/she is 1 year old. After this time, you may change over to whole milk. Children under 2 years should not drink skim or low-fat milk.

No substitutions.

Use the baby formula that you and your pediatrician have selected. Do not use cow's milk, instant dry milk, canned or condensed milk.

Types of formula

From cow's milk
Today 80 percent of baby formulas are made from cow's milk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if using one of these formulas, be sure that is is fortified with iron.
A soy-based formula may be the right choice if your baby is unable to digest the lactose present in cow's milk formulas or if your family has a strong history of milk allergies.
Specialty formulas
These formulas are for babies with special needs, including premature babies or those with specific health problems.

Formula Preparation

Choose the form(s) of formula that are right for you and your lifestyle.
Read to feed
This formula is just what the name promises: ready right from the container. It offers the greatest convenience but is the most expensive choice.
Concentrated liquid
Mix this formula with an equal part of water to feed your baby. This is a more moderately priced option than ready to feed formula.
Available in pre-measured packets or in a can with a measuring scoop, powdered formula mixes easily with warm tap water. Prepare most types using a level scoop of powdered formula to 2 ounces of water. if water safety is a concern, boil the water for one minute or use bottled water. Powdered formula is generally the least expensive option , and it has the longest shelf life.

Bottle selection and care

  • Choose bottles that are glass, plastic or plastic with soft disposable plastic liners. Make sure the bottles your choose are Bisphenol-A (BPA) free.
  • Clean bottles and nipples by washing them in ho, sudsy water. Rinse well.
  • Be sure to run water through the hole in the nipple during cleaning.
  • Wash bottles and nipples int he dishwasher if you like, but this may shorten the lifespan of the nipples.

Warming Bottles

  • Warm formula that has been refrigerated to body temperature before feeding you baby.
  • Never microwave your baby's bottle because microwaves heat unevenly, creating hot spots in the milk that could burn your baby.

Bottle-feeding tips

  • The nipple should allow milk to come out at one drop per second when you turn the bottle upside down. A too-large hole in the nipple allows milk to flow too quickly and may lead to choking. A too-small hole may cause delays, slow feeding and increase baby's frustration.
  • Tip the bottle during feeding to keep the nipple filled with formula.
  • Keep your baby's head higher than the rest of his or her body during feeding.
  • Always hold your baby while feeding. You will both benefit from the physical closeness and soothing sensation of skin-to-skin contact.
  • Never prop the bottle, and never leave your baby alone because your baby could spit up and choke during feeding.

When and how much to feed?

  • Feed your baby on demand. Usually the baby will want to eat about every 4 hours.
  • For baby's first days, limit feedings to about 1 ounce of formula. Your newborn's tummy is tiny, so it will fill up fast.
  • The amount of formula your baby needs will quickly increase. Increase the amount as your baby tolerates it.
  • Prepare only the amount of formula you expect to use at one feeding. After feeding, throw away any leftover formula.
  • Please remember that your baby has his or her own unique feeding needs. The more time you spend together, the better you will be able to recognize and respond to feeding cues.

Burping your baby

  • Always burp your baby frequently throughout the feeding so his or her tummy is filled with milk, not air bubbles.
  • Burping technique #1: Hold your baby close and upright, with your shoulder supporting the head and neck while you gently pat the baby's back.
  • Burping technique #2: Sit with your baby on your lap. Support the chest and head with one hand while gently patting the back with your other hand.


Don't worry. Hiccups are normal for babies. f hiccups occur during a feeding, change the baby's position and try to burp him or her. f the hiccups continue, wait 5 - 10 minutes and try to resume feeding.

Spitting up

Don't worry. Spitting up is normal for babies, especially while burping. Babies usually spit up because they have eaten more than their small tummies can hold. Most babies stop spitting up by the time they are sitting up on their own.

Make an informed decision about supplementing breastmilk with formula


Additional Information from our Health Library