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Understanding Bottle Feeding

You may need or want to feed your baby using a bottle. You can do this using expressed breast milk or formula. It's not all or nothing either - you can give your baby both breast milk and formula (sometimes known as mixed feeding).

If you feed your baby with a bottle there are still lots of things you can do to develop a loving bond. You can also learn the signs that your baby is hungry.

Combined formula and breast feeding?
Giving infant formula milk doesn’t mean your baby can’t still have some breast milk as well. Your breast milk supply will adapt to meet your feeding needs but care needs to be taken so that your breasts don’t get too full and sore.

Take a look at these videos about combining breast and bottle feeding: *CLICK HERE to watch video*



    • Offer feeds when your baby shows the early signs of being hungry

    • If your baby is upset, try to soothe them before you offer a feed. Talking to them or skin to skin contact are both great ways of helping them feel calm

    • Hold your baby close to you, look into their eyes and talk to them gently

    • Gently rub the teat of the bottle against the baby’s top lip to encourage them to open their mouth and the tongue to stick out

    • Place the teat in front of the baby’s mouth allowing them to draw it further in

    • Allow just enough milk to cover the teat and pace the feed to meet your baby’s needs

    • Offer frequent breaks throughout the feed sitting baby upright to help bring up wind

    • Never force a baby to take a whole bottle – your baby will know when they have had enough

    • Discard any leftover milk

    • Remember you baby's tummy is only small. Look at the image below to see how much milk your baby's tummy can take:


  • When your baby is hungry they will try and show you they need feeding by doing some of these things (sometimes called feeding cues):

    When you notice these signs, try and feed your baby as soon as possible. Don’t wait until they start crying. Once a baby has started crying, they may be very upset which can make feeding difficult. If this happens, try and calm your baby down before beginning a feed.

  • Most people choose to use an infant formula powder rather than a ready made formula as powdered formula is cheaper.  Infant formula is based on processed, skimmed cows’ milk and is treated so babies can digest it. Vegetable oils, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are added to make sure the milk contains the vitamins and minerals that young babies need. This information will be on the contents list of the pack. Ready made formula is sterile and ready to use but infant formula powders are not sterile, so it is important to follow correct cleaning and sterilising instructions.


  • There are lots of benefits from spending time with your baby skin to skin:

    • Helps your baby stay warm
    • Calms your baby’s heartbeat
    • Regulates your baby’s breathing
    • Helps your baby to feed
    • Releases oxytocin - a feel-good hormone - in you and your baby
    • Reduces stress for both you and your baby.

    Skin to skin is a great way for baby to bond with Dads, partners or other carers too.

    When you're out and about, slings are great as babies love being close to you and you can still have your hands free. If you would like to use a sling but don’t want to buy one why not use a sling library? *CLICK HERE*

  • Young babies are not capable of learning a routine. They need to stay close to you, so that you can respond when they let you know that they need food or comfort. Your baby’s tummy is only small, so they need to feed a lot. They also feel comforted and secure when they are close to you.

    It is best to keep your baby in the same room as you during the day and night for at least the first six months. This enables you to see when your baby is hungry or needs comforting. It also reduces the risk of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS).

  • It’s recommended breastfed babies have 8.5-10mg of vitamin D every day.

    From 6 months to 5 years old, it’s advised all children are given vitamins with A, C and D in them. Babies who drink more than 500ml (about 17 ounces) of formula milk each day, do not need the supplements as they’ll be in their formula milk already.

    Some families can get free vitamins through the Healthy Start voucher scheme. For families who are not eligible, Norfolk Lloyds Pharmacies sell Healthy Start vitamins at a cheaper price than branded vitamins.

  • What is Healthy Start?

    Healthy Start is a national scheme to improve health. You could qualify if you're on low income or benefits and are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four. You also qualify if you're pregnant and under 18.

    Your midwife, health visitor or other health professional can support you to sign up. You will be sent vouchers for cow’s milk, fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables and first infant formula milk. These can be used in local shops or supermarkets. You will also receive vouchers to exchange in pharmacies for:

    • Women’s vitamins (contain Vitamin C, D and Folic Acid) - available from week 10 of pregnancy up to baby’s first birthday
    • Children’s Vitamins (contain Vitamin A, C and D) – from ages 6 months to 4 years

    For families who are not eligible for the scheme, all Norfolk Lloyds Pharmacies sell Healthy Start vitamins at a cheaper price than branded vitamins.

    For more information on the scheme and a list of shops accepting vouchers *Click Here* 

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

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