Bottle Feeding Your Baby

August 17, 2021

How you feed your baby is up to you! Not everyone is able to or wants to breastfeed their babies, and that is OK! You know what is best for you and your baby.

Breast Milk or Formula

You can use either breast milk or formula to feed your baby in a bottle. If you choose to use a formula make sure that you choose one that is iron-fortified. There is some speculation that iron in the formula gives babies gas and constipation, but studies have found that this is not true. It is important to be aware of any history of allergies to anything that might be in the formula. If you think your baby is lactose intolerant, or you have other health concerns, make sure you consult your pediatrician, they will direct you towards the right formula for your baby.

Formula comes either in powder form or in a concentrated form. Both of these you would mix with water. You can also get formula in ready-to-feed form, this is the most expensive formula you can buy.

How to hold baby when bottle feeding

The most common way to hold a baby while bottle feeding is to cradle baby in a semi-upright position and support baby’s head. You do not want to lay baby flat down while feeding them, this can cause the formula to flow into the middle ear, and cause an ear infection. To prevent your baby from swallowing too much air as he/she sucks on the bottle, tilt the bottle as the formula fills the neck of the bottle and covers the nipple, making sure that the nipple had formula in it when baby sucks.

How much formula will your baby eat?

Babies right after birth and within the first few days of life will only eat about an ounce or two during their feedings. Within the first few weeks, your baby will eat about 2-4 ounces at a time. They will be hungry about every 2-3 hours. This is just a guideline on how often and how much. It is best to feed babies on demand. Don’t encourage or try and force your baby to finish the bottle if he/she isn’t interested. In retrospect, if your baby is still sucking enthusiastically and his/her bottle is empty, offer your baby more.


Babies tend to get really cranky and fussy when they swallow air during feedings because it makes them feel uncomfortable. This tends to happen more often in bottle-fed babies and infants. This can, unfortunately, turn into a vicious circle, causing baby to swallow even more air and become even more upset. In order to prevent this from happening burp your baby frequently. Burping after every 2-3 ounces of formula is always a good rule of thumb. If your baby doesn’t burp after a few minutes you can continue feeding.

Burping Positions

  1. Over the shoulder: Put your baby over your shoulder and firmly pat or rub his/her back.
  2. On the lap: Sit your baby upright, lean his/her weight forward against the heel of your hand, and firmly pat or rub his/her back.
  3. Laying down: Place baby stomach down on your lap and firmly pat or rub his/her back.

Switching from Breastfeeding to Bottle-feeding

If you are making the switch from breastfeeding your baby to bottle-feeding times the transition is easier if you have your partner, friend, or family member give your baby the bottle for the first several times. It is also important to ease into bottle-feeding your baby. Start with one bottle at a time. Give your baby a full week to get used to the single bottle feeding before moving on to two. This will help your baby and your breasts adjust over time if you’ll be supplementing with formula instead of pumping and feeding breast milk.

Notes from your Doula

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for bottle-feeding your baby! You are AMAZING!!! There is always going to be opinions out there…don’t let them stop you from doing what works best for you.

During my childbirth classes, we go over more in-depth about bottle feeding your baby.