There will come a time when you'll have to bottle feed a child. Do you know what to do? Many bottle feeding problems are directly related to the lack of technique employed by the caregiver. What seems to be insignificant details can actually impact on how a baby feeds. A lack of expertise can lead to stress on the baby and therefore she may not be getting all the nutrition she needs.
Testing the temperature of the milk is vital. Shake the bottle well and put a little of the milk on the inner side of your wrist. It should feel slightly warm but never hot. We've all seen this iconic image many times, from family, friends or on television but it really is still the best way of testing for the optimal temperature of bottle milk. If the milk is less than body temperature the baby may feel disinclined to drink it. If the milk is too hot there is a risk of injuring the baby's mouth and gullet.
Feeding a child can take a long time so you should find a sitting position that is comfortable for both you and the child. The baby will feel best when you hold her close to you in a semi reclining position. The baby's head should not be tilted too far forward or too far back: too far forward and the baby will have difficulty swallowing, too far back and excess milk may run down their face, into its ears or back up its nose.
Don't force the nipple into the baby's mouth. Try to encourage the baby to open her mouth by touching her lips with the nipple. The baby's tongue should be under the nipple. If not, gently take out the nipple and try again. During the feed, monitor the baby's sucking action and ensure that the tongue is always on top of the nipple: young babies have a tendency to move the tongue on top when they cry.
Make sure the nipple is well inside the mouth. Don't pull back as your baby will not get a good suction.
The best way I've found to monitor a baby while feeding is to hold the bottle between your thumb and index finger while placing your middle finger on the baby's chin. This allows you to constantly monitor their sucking and lets you know when they've stopped.
You should allow for 'pit stops' during the feed. The baby will probably stop sucking several times during the feed. During these times you should try to gently burp the child. If she complains then refrain from burbing her until after the feed.
Finally, take your time. Don't try to rush the baby or she will get stressed. Remember, some babies stop and start during the feed. By paying close attention you'll be able to recognise the signs that the baby has finished its feed.
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