Bottle Feeding

Bottle Feeding Your Infant

Newborn baby drinking from a bottle

If you decide to bottle feed, you will give your baby infant formula until he or she is a year old. Infant formula is the best alternative to breast milk. Patterned after human milk, formula gives babies an excellent balance of nutrients they need for growth and development during the all-important first year of life. An advantage of bottle feeding is that these times can also be shared by the baby’s father and other members of the family.

While the term “bottle feeding” usually refers to the use of infant formula, many nursing mothers bottle feed too. Typically, they’ll have someone else give the baby a bottle of infant formula or pumped breast milk for feedings they have to miss.

At first, feeding a newborn will take time and patience, and it must be done frequently because of the small size of your infant’s stomach. New babies do not operate on a regular schedule. At first, your baby will probably want to be fed every two to four hours, usually taking about 20 to 30 minutes. Babies who finish faster may be getting the formula too fast, which is hard on the digestive system. If this happens, the nipple should be replaced with a smaller hole, which will help facilitate normal consumption.

A new baby may drink as little as 1 ounce or as much as 3 to 4 ounces during a single feeding. In the past, mothers were told to wait four hours between feedings. However, this left many hungry babies unsatisfied until their next feedings. Today, we understand that it’s better to feed “on demand.”

The amount of formula can vary from feeding to feeding. Large, active babies may need more formula than smaller, less active ones, especially those who sleep a lot. Fussy babies may want food more often than quiet babies. If you’re using infant formula, it’s hard to know how much to offer the baby. It’s best to include one more ounce than you think the baby will drink. Let your baby be your guide; he or she will usually make it clear when interest in a feeding is lost, or when he or she would like more. Babies should not be pushed to take more than they want, but they should not be given less than they need either.

Types of Bottle-Feeding Systems

  • Bottle with regular nipple
  • Disposable system with bags and nipple (Playtex®)
  • Disposable system with container and nipple (Munchkin®)

Types of Formula

  • Dry—This is the least expensive. It requires mixing and can be prepared for one or more feedings.
  • Concentrated—This is more expensive. It’s easy to mix, can be used for one day’s bottle, and can be kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Ready to feed—This is the most expensive. No mixing is required. It can be used for one or more feedings and can be kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours.


If your baby is bottle fed, the stools are more likely to look yellowish-tan but may also be green, brown, or grayish. Stools may be loose or liquidy, especially in nursing babies. This type of stool is not the same as diarrhea. With diarrhea, stools are more frequent, completely liquid, and leave watery rings in the baby’s diaper. If your baby’s stools are small and pebble like, regardless of frequency, the baby may be constipated. Don’t give your baby an enema, suppository, or laxative until you have talked to your provider.

As long as your baby seems happy and content, is eating normally, and has no signs of illness, don’t worry about minor changes in stools. Normal babies may have several bowel movements a day or none for one or two days. It’s also normal for your baby to grunt or turn red in the face while having a bowel movement.


While nursing, a baby may swallow air along with the milk. This is especially true if the baby is a “gulper.” Holding your baby in an upright position, while supporting the head, will bring up the most air bubbles. Patting and rubbing the baby’s back will also help. When bottle feeding, burp the baby after half of the bottle is gone or when the baby stops feeding. Some babies burp a lot and others not at all. If your baby gets fussy soon after feeding, try burping.

If you have any questions, please call our office.