Feeding your babies is very much a personal choice and you should do what works best for you, your babies and your family situation. One option is to bottle feed. This option is more expensive than other feeding options, but for some families this is the option which works best for them. One major advantage of bottle feeding is that both parents, and anyone else, can share in the task. This may also be an important consideration for parents of twins or more who need to be able to spend time with their other children.
Making up a bottle of formula
To reduce the risk of infection, current guidelines for preparing infant formula are that each feed should be made up at the time it is needed and that the water should be no less than 70°c (within 30 minutes of a kettle boiling will ensure that the water is at or above this temperature) when the formula powder is added. When out and about with your babies, vacuum flasks can keep water above 70°c for several hours. The powder and water can then be added to the babies’ bottles when the feed is required. Rather than shaking the bottle straight away to mix the formula powder and water, roll the bottle in your hands first to avoid the powder getting into the top of the teat, then shake thoroughly.
You should always use the scoop provided with the infant formula powder and add the exact number of scoops to water ratio as instructed on the formula tub label. Then you should cool the feed to feeding temperature by running the bottle under the cold tap. Test the temperature by dropping a small amount of milk on your wrist (don’t touch your skin with the teat). You will know that it is at the right temperature if you can’t really feel the milk on your wrist meaning that it is neither too hot or too cold. If when you take the lid off the bottle the milk sprays everywhere this is a sure way to know that the milk is far too hot!
Making a formula feed and then storing it, or not cleaning and sterilising bottles properly can increase the chance of a baby becoming ill:
- Follow the instructions for cleaning and sterilising bottles carefully – details can be found on the Unicef website.
- Discard any feed that has not been used within two hours.
Feeding provides a great opportunity to spend some one to one time with your babies, it helps to get feeding off to a good start and also gives you an opportunity to get to know each other and start to build a lovely relationship. Every baby is different and taking some time with him/her during feeding helps you get to know their individual needs and feeding patterns.
If both (all) of your babies wake together, it is possible for one adult to feed two babies at once using one of the following positions:
- Older babies may be positioned each in an infant seat and you can sit between them both of them (support your back against a wall/sofa/chair), holding a bottle in each hand.
- You can position one baby in an infant seat and hold one baby in your lap, again holding a bottle in each hand. Alternate which baby is on your lap at each feed so each baby has a turn being held close on your lap.
Please note: babies should never be propped up with a bottle, left unattended during feeding or fed lying down – all of these positions pose a serious risk of baby choking.
Talk to your midwife or health visitor when they visit or call if you feel you need more support regarding positioning your babies safely and comfortably during feeding. The number to contact them should be in your red book.
Winding / burping
Whilst feeding your babies ensure that you take regular breaks during the feed to allow the baby to rest and to wind them. Hold them upright and gently rub or gently pat their back to bring up any wind, as per the NHS choices information for burping single babies.
Do this for each baby. Don't try to wind both babies at the same time if you are feeding them by yourself.