Navigating my way through bottle feeding

Bottle feeding was all new to me when we made the decision to bottle feed Miss O - I had breastfed Miss M for 14 months, and she would never take a bottle! You can read more about why we made this decision in a previous blog post (click here).

The midwives at the hospital suggested Karicare formula and we've stuck with that one as it seems to agree with Miss O. I began preparing bottles and putting them in the fridge up to 24 hours ahead of time but I found it took far too long to heat them up using boiling water. Then I began leaving the cooled, boiled water out of the fridge in a sealed jug and preparing the bottle fresh, but the best thing I did was purchase a second-hand Closer to Nature 'Perfect Prep' machine (shown below) which dispenses filtered water at the perfect temp (and you just add the formula). It is so quick and convenient!

I still keep cooled boiled water in a jug on the bench so that I can pour 150mL's into a bottle, pop the lid on the bottle, chuck it in my nappy bag, and use a dispenser for the 3 scoops of formula, either a single container or a container which has 3 sections (shown below). If I'm only going out for an hour or so, even if Miss O shouldn't need to be fed, I'll always at least have one bottle made up in my nappy bag. If I know I'll be out for 6 hours for example, which should be 2 feeds (if I feed before I go), I'd chuck in 3 bottles and 4 servings of formula just to be safe (an extra bottle, and 2 extra formula servings, as it is easier to boil and cool more water, but formula may be harder to find if you run out).

Miss O began on 100mL's approx. 7 times a day, and is now on 150mL's approx. 6 times a day. I have often thought I should increase the 150mL's per feed, but if it's obvious Miss O needs more at a feed, I just make up another 50mL's (because there are times she barely drinks the full 150mL's). Miss O feeds every 3 hours, and once overnight, about 4am.

Once I've finished with a bottle, I rinse it and place it on the sink (as shown below) until I am ready to wash it up.

I wash up the bottles 1-2 times per day and always wash up bottles first in the fresh washing up water before washing up anything else. I love these Heinz bottle brushes which have a teet brush which fits inside the end of the bottle brush. I only use this brush for bottles (and not for anything else).

Once they are washed up, I use this Closer to Nature electric steriliser to sterilise the bottles (I borrowed this from a friend). It only takes about 6 minutes, uses only steam (you pour in 80mL's of tap water) and can sterilise 6 bottles, plus teets (and even dummies) at a time. Once the cycle has been completed, you can leave everything in the steriliser for 24 hours and it will remain sterilised (as long as you don't open it). It is sort of annoying having such a large appliance sitting on my bench, but I use it 1-2 times a day and again, it is quick and convenient. As shown in the pic below, we use Phillips Avent bottles as Miss O seemed to take to these straight away (I borrowed a few different bottles and bought my own teets to try a few out before I bought some). I have 8 bottles which means I usually only have to wash them up once a day.

Rather than take the electric steriliser on holidays, I bought this large D├ęcor tub which can hold all my bottles, formula and bottle brush, and it can be used as a steriliser when filled with 4L of tap water and 2 Milton tablets (sterilise for 15 mins). It works well!

If you choose or have to bottle feed, there are definitely many benefits. It is very handy that others can feed Miss O, and that she can be babysat by my Mum for example, for longer periods of time. Bottle feeding is a lot quicker than I remember breast feeding being (at least at first). I don't have to wear special feeding tops, or breast pads, or risk getting mastitis (I had it twice with Miss M). It's so good knowing exactly how much milk Miss O is getting. I am able to take any medications, and don't have to worry whether they are safe for breastfeeding, plus I don't have to worry about whether what I'm eating is making Miss O unsettled. We still have a really strong mother and baby connection, and I love as she is feeding that she can look up at me.

The negatives are definitely the cost of formula, and the cost of buying all the various things you need for bottle feeding. It is sometimes a pain having to wash the bottles up each day, and ensure that I have bottles made up when we go out. Breastmilk changes as your baby grows, and can protect against illness, and it is always readily available, whereas formula can't do this. As you can see there are pros and cons for both, but at the end of the day, many factors will determine our choices, and my decision was predominantly for both mine and my family's mental health and wellbeing. Hopefully some of the information I've provided about bottle feeding might help someone who is needing to or choosing to bottle feed!

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