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Expert guidance on baby feeding: Part three

In this final part of our series, Hannah Spiring, Care Group Community Infant Feeding coordinator, writes about responsive bottle feeding with mothers who choose to bottle feed, and what information they need.

Posted on: 4 December 2023

Read part one

Read part two

Safe and effective bottle-feeding

The process of bottle feeding can help to build close and loving relationships between baby and their caregivers by responsive feeding.

Parents should be encouraged to keep baby close as this will help them to pick up on any feeding cues that baby displays. Baby should be sleeping in the same room as parent(s), both day and night. 

Baby should be held close, in a semi upright position, with eye contact between caregiver and the baby. Changing sides whilst feeding will also help with baby’s brain development. Allow the baby to be in control of the feed. Offer the teat by brushing the top lip of the baby and allowing them to take the teat into their mouth. 

Pacing the feed helps; watch baby for signs that they need a break, this might be spitting the bottle out, splayed fingers or toes, stopping sucking, milk spilling from the mouth or turning their head away. 

Hold the bottle horizontal or slightly tilted to ensure that the milk doesn’t flow too fast from the bottle. Avoid forcing the baby to finish the feed because it is possible to overfeed bottle-fed babies.

We encourage parents to limit the number of people who bottle feed as this will help to build the close and loving relationship between caregiver and baby. Encourage caregiver to use cuddles and skin to skin contact to help to soothe and calm baby, this will also have a positive effect on the caregiver as skin to skin stimulates the release of the love hormone oxytocin which helps to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. 

Discussing safer sleep and bed sharing is just as important with bottle feeding families. Learn more via the Lullaby Trust website: 

Co-sleeping with your baby

Safer sleep advice

For more information, please email Hannah: [javascript protected email address]