Advice from Canpol's experienced mothers.
Bottle feeding really isn't difficult. However, you must remember a couple of rules. If you feed him incorrectly, your baby might cry, spill, suffer from colic or gain weight slowly. Therefore, you must choose the proper, upright, feeding position in order to bottle feed your baby. The position should remind a natural feeding position - especially when you feed him using two different ways of feeding. Also remember, that your baby's head should rest in the crook of your arm, in line with the spine. The longitudinal part of the teat that goes into the baby's mouth, should always be full of milk - otherwise the child swallows air which can cause colic. Bubbles inside the bottle mean that your baby is sucking correctly.
Here are some examples of comfortable bottle feeding positions. Whichever position you choose to use, it's best to always sit on the floor, leaning comfortably against the wall. Test them all to see which one suits you best:
This is the most classic position. The baby sits on one of your thighs, with his back leaning against your other thigh. You can hold his head in the crook of your arm or directly with your hand.
On the side
If your baby spills heavily, suffers from gastroesophageal reflux, or has a running nose, it's best to feed him while he's lying on his side (preferably on his left side, but it's good to change sides from time to time), diagonally to the floor.Your baby lies on his side, on one of your thighs, with his back and head leaning against your other thigh. His bottom rests on your belly. You can change the angle of your baby's body by lifting or lowering your knees.
Facing each other
Lay the baby on your lap, so that his bottom leans against your belly. This position ensures the right positioning of the head and torso (head is in line with the spine). Remember to keep your baby's torso straight, don't let him arch his back.
With this position you should maintain the baby's torso in line with the head. It will help the baby breathe properly, suck and swallow more effectively and he will also get less tired during feeding. If your baby wants to, let him hold the bottle in his hand, even if he's still very small. At about 7 months, the child starts to feel independent and wants to hold the bottle on his own. However, you should still support the bottle with your hand and assist your baby with the feeding until he finishes eating. When your baby grows (i.e. sits independently), you can feed him in the high chair, and substitute the bottle with a non-spill cup or a regular cup with a straw.
Don't leave your baby alone with the bottle. It's absolutely forbidden! You also mustn't let your baby sleep with the bottle in his mouth. Both cases could cause him to choke!
Regardless of whether you feed with breast or bottle, always remember these rules:
- First of all, always feed your baby in your arms. Do not feed your baby when he's lying, especially on his back. He could choke on milk, babies often suffer from reflux which means that the feed flows back from his stomach to the esophagus (foodpipe). Remember also that your baby feels most safe in your arms. Try also to switch arms from time to time, i.e. support your baby first with one hand and then with the other. Thanks to variation, your baby's muscles will develop evenly.
- Secondly, remember to always keep your baby's head higher than his torso (rest it on your arm). It's the best suckling position for the baby. If you breastfeed, make sure that your baby latches on and suckles properly. Whereas if you feed from bottle, make sure that the part of the teat that is in the child's mouth is completely filled with milk. It minimises the risk of swallowing air (i.e. prevents colic). Make sure your baby doesn't lean his head back or forward too much.It makes sucking much more difficult, and might even cause the feed to get to your baby's airways.
- Thirdly, never feed your baby when you're irritated or stressed. First take a moment to yourself, take a deep breath and try to relax. When you have calmed down, take a seat in a comfortable armchair, lay a pillow under your arm, rest your baby on the pillow and start feeding, while talking gently to your baby. Your child senses your emotions. If you're stressed, he too will feel uneasy. Also never feed your baby when he's agitated, crying or screaming. When he's in such a state, his airways aren't protected and the feed could get to his larynx instead of his foodpipe.
- Fourthly, take breaks after and during every feeding, in order to you hold your baby in a vertical or semi-vertical position. Rest his head on your shoulder and support his back with your hand. Hold the baby in an upright position until he brings up wind, swallowed with the feed. Usually this only takes a moment, although sometimes it can take a little longer.
Mum of 9 year old Patrycja, 11 years of professional experience
Clinical Neuro-speech Therapist