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Choosing to bottle feed is a personal decision. Babies usually take one quarter to one ounce of formula every three to four hours while in the hospital. During the first week, your baby should increase the amount of formula he or she takes with each feeding to approximately two to three ounces per feeding. Your baby will take more as he or she grows. By the end of one month, your baby will be taking three to four ounces per feeding.

The frequency of bowel movements varies from one baby to another. Many have a bowel movement with each feeding. Your baby should have at least one bowel movement each day.

Helpful hints for bottle feeding:

  • Always hold your baby while feeding. Babies need and love to be cuddled.
  • Do not prop up the bottle. It can cause choking.
  • Look at and talk to your baby while feeding him or her. This helps form a special bond.
  • Discard any formula not used within an hour after the feeding begins.
  • Ask your baby's health care provider before switching brands of formula.

Preparing a Bottle

Bottle feeding requires preparation. Here are the basic steps to follow:

  • Sterilize bottles and nipples before using them for the first time. Recommendations vary for how often you should sterilize them after the initial use. Check with your baby's health care provider for guidelines. If you use a dishwasher, sterilizing is not necessary. If you are washing bottles and nipples by hand, use hot soapy water and rinse well. Turn them upside down to dry.
  • Your baby's health care provider will tell you what brand of formula to use. Formula comes in three forms: powder, concentrate and ready-to-use.
    • Prepare the powder or concentrate by adding cool, sterilized water to it, following directions on the can. Sterilize tap water by boiling it for five minutes and cooling it before mixing.
    • Once prepared, each type of formula varies slightly in color and thickness. For example, ready-to-use may look thicker than powder.
    • Pour prepared formula made from concentrate into clean bottles and refrigerate until ready to use. Discard any unused prepared formula after 48 hours.
    • If using powder, sterilize the water, pour into bottles and refrigerate. At feeding time, add the appropriate amount of formula powder to the water and mix well. This prevents having to discard any unused prepared formula.
    • Ready-to-use formula does not require any preparation. Pour the desired amount of formula into clean bottles, cap and refrigerate.
  • Warm the bottle before feeding.