5 Tips for Bottle Feeding Your Newborn Baby

Chicago Birth & Baby's Best Tips for Bottle Feeding Your Newborn Baby. How, when and how often to feed your newborn.

Making the choice to bottle feed isn’t as simple as it sounds.

How do you bottle feed a newborn? How often does a newborn need to eat? How much formula does my newborn need? How do I make a bottle?

The focus of this blog is on getting bottle feeding off to a good start with your newborn baby. Let’s break it down!

Initiation of Bottle Feeding

Your newborn won’t be hungry right away. It’s going to take him a minute to figure out the whole breathing thing, and once that happens, he’s going to be eager to bond with you and your partner, and then might start to think about eating.

While you’re pregnant, think about if you’d like to do skin to skin after birth and, if so, if integrating bottlefeeding and skin to skin is important to you. Who is going to do the first bottle feeding--you or your partner or another trusted family member?

Signs of Hunger & Satiety in Newborns

Early signs of hunger: turning the head & looking around, sticking the tongue out, putting the fist in the mouth, rooting, lip smacking, opening mouth

Late signs of hunger: CRYING! (Let’s not let it get to that, but also remember that crying is the baby’s only way to communicate, so crying could be a sign of another discomfort or just wanting to be snuggled).

Signs of satiety: Closing lips, turning head away, slowed sucking, falling asleep (sometimes)

Frequency & Amount of Formula

Newborns should be fed on demand, usually every 2-4 hours, beginning within about 3-4 hours of birth. The first day, your baby’s tummy can only hold about 15mL, or ½ an ounce.

Pro tip: the hospital formula bottles contain two ounces of formula and have a nipple that allows for a fast flow, so dump out everything but about 1-2 ounces so that the baby doesn’t accidentally get too full.

Over the course of the first week, your baby’s milk intake will increase to about 1.5-2oz per 2-3 hours. Over the rest of the first month, formula intake will increase to 2-4 ounces every 3-4 hours, for a total of about 25-30 ounces over a 24 hour period.

Positioning Newborns for Bottle Feeding

Hold your baby semi-upright while holding the bottle horizontally. This positioning, known as paced bottle feeding, allows the baby to initiate the feeding, take breaks as needed, and pull away when finished. Have a burp cloth ready--newborns are messy eaters!

If your baby seems uncomfortable, you might take a burp break in the middle of the feeding.

Preparing & Storing Formula for Newborns

There are different guidelines for formula preparation and storage for babies under 3 months versus over 3 months since young babies have weaker immune systems.

For newborns, it is best to purchase the premixed (liquid) formula. If you are making formula from a powder mix, prep each bottle individually before use.

Feed your baby within 2 hours of mixing the formula or place it in the refrigerator where it will be good for 24 hours as long as your baby hasn’t touched the nipple with his lips yet.

Our postpartum doulas are experts in infant feeding and can help you gain confidence in those early weeks.