Breast feeding your baby is usually the healthiest choice for your infant, however, sometimes that isn't an option. In my case, I stopped producing milk rather early in my daughter's life. She was just 6 weeks old and I just didn't have a milk supply any longer. I felt as though I was being judged every time I pulled out the bottle and formula. Over the next few months, I learned more about bottle vs. breast feeding and came to some conclusions. If bottle feeding is your choice, for whatever reason, the best thing to do is learn how to bottle feed effectively.

Never prop up your baby's bottle

When you choose to bottle feed, it can be tempting to prop your baby's bottle up and let them eat while you go about doing other things. This is a huge no-no for many reasons. It isn't safe because babies choke easily. Think about if you were drinking and you needed a break or to take a breath but you had a glass of water stuck in your mouth, things would get difficult, and scary pretty quickly. Also, just because you are bottle feeding doesn't mean you have to miss the bonding time with your child. This also will help eliminate any unnecessary air intake and help keep the gas bubbles limited.

Research different bottles

There are a wide variety of bottles out there, different brands, styles, shapes, colors and nipple fits. It is important that you research and find the bottle that will best fit your baby's needs. They may need a smaller nipple, or a wider nipple. Just like when choosing a pacifier, you want the bottle nipple that will be the best fit for your baby. There are also bottles that claim to reduce colic and gas. Do your research and find the bottle that will be the best for your baby, not just the cheapest or most stylish.

Research different formulas

Just like choosing the bottle itself, it is important to be very picky about the formula you feed your baby. There are formulas for babies with colic and gas and for babies who need a soy instead of milk based formula. For some babies, you need to bypass formula all together and drink goat's milk.

Find the perfect temperature

Most babies will also want their bottles a little warm. You can use warm, not hot, water to mix with the formula. If you retrieve the bottle from the fridge, soak it in some hot water until the milk is the perfect temperature for your baby. Check this by dripping some milk on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. After some time you will learn to feel the exact temperature that your baby wants.

Clean the bottles frequently

Not only do you need to clean the bottles frequently, you need to clean them effectively. The nipples should be cleaned and boiled often. And the bottles should be kept as clean as possible. Never use a dirty bottle, or nipple. It is also important that extra formula (or breast milk if fed by bottle), is refrigerated and disposed of if left out for more than one hour.

Feed on a schedule

Creating a feeding schedule creates freedom. When your baby is fed on a schedule it will be easier for you to know her needs when she cries. Babies who have schedules tend to be happier babies. They don't snack, a habit which diminishes the time between feedings. They will nap for longer periods of time because they will eat better, and their tummies will be full longer.

It is important if you do choose to bottle feed, that you understand it is perfectly OK. The way you feed your baby doesn't define your love for them, nor does it define the bond you have with that child. I have been down a very personal road with judgment from others that led me to finally embrace that each child will come with their own personalities, eating habits, sleeping habits, and needs. Each mother will have a different experience with each child.

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