Choosing to formula feed your baby or simply to supplement his diet is an option. If you are supplementing breast milk or you are not breastfeeding, iron-fortified infant formula is the only other food that should be provided to baby for the first six months. Once you get into the routine, you'll find that formula feeding is extremely manageable, even in the middle of the night. Start feeding baby solid foods at six months and continue to feed formula to your baby until 9 to 12 months of age.
How to know when your baby is hungry
Does he wake up and look alert? Move his hands or fists into his mouth? Make sucking noises? Or whimper and move his arms and legs? These are all cues that your baby is ready to eat.
How to give your baby his bottle
- Don't prop the bottle. As much as your baby enjoys her bottle, she enjoys being held and comforted by you even more.
- Be sure that the formula is coming through the nipple at the right speed. Turn the bottle upside-down to check. If a few drops come out instead of a stream, it's the right flow.
- If you are using powdered formula, ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and that the nipple is not clogged by lumps of powder.
- Find a comfortable spot. Hold your baby in your lap or in the crook of your arm. Make sure your baby's head is well-supported and higher than his stomach. If he is positioned too horizontally, an ear infection could result.
- The formula should completely fill the nipple so that air doesn't get into your baby's tummy. Even so, most babies will s swallow some air during a feeding and will need to be burped.
Learn how to properly mix a bottle
There are three ways you can burp your baby. Try these techniques:
- Hold him upright against your shoulder and pat his back gently.
- Hold him upright on your lap, supporting his head and chest with your hands. Then rock him gently back and forth or pat his back.
- Place him across your lap with his stomach against your legs and rub his back gently.
Have a clean cloth ready in case a little formula comes up.
How to know when your baby is full
If he closes his mouth, stops sucking, turns away, bites or plays with the bottle nipple, he may have eaten enough. Don't force him to finish a bottle if he is full. Your baby will be hungrier at some feedings than others - be sure to follow his cues to know how much he needs.
Learn more about formula feeding. How much? How often?
How to manage nighttime feedings
As your baby's stomach grows and can hold more, his sleeping patterns will become more regular. Keep late-night feedings quiet and calm and limit daytime naps to no more than 3 hours to help him learn day from night.
There are formulas for babies with special feeding needs (such as allergies or intolerances).