Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bottle Questions

There are newborn-flow, slow-flow, medium-flow, and fast-flow nipples. The medium-flow nipples say 3+ months on the package. Should I switch my baby to medium-flow nipples at three months?

If you're breastfeeding in addition to pumping, it's important to stay with a slow-flow nipple as long as your baby isn't fussing about the slowness of the milk. Getting milk out of a breast takes work, and your baby may begin to prefer the ease of the bottle's nipple to your own.

If you're an exclusive pumper, I'd still stick with a slow-flow nipple until your baby starts to fuss, though there are less consequences.

The moral of the story? Don't take advice from manufacturing labels.

How much breastmilk should I put in the bottle?

Slightly more than your baby generally eats, in case of extra hunger (usually just before bedtime). Your baby's stomach is about the size of his or her fist -- that's about the size of a walnut between six weeks to six months. Most babies eat about 700 to 800 mL (23-28 oz) per day, but may eat more, especially when on a growth spurt. Let your baby's hunger be your guide. If he or she isn't spitting up excessively, is producing at least six wet diapers a day, and is growing, you're giving the baby enough milk.

How much should my baby be eating? Does it change over time?

From about twelve weeks to six months, a baby's eating habits tend to be fairly constant. Not all babies are the same, of course, so it's good to keep track of what your baby is eating (and how much you're producing). A milk consumption calculator can help. Remember, don't compare the amount a formula-fed infant gets with that of a breastfed infant -- formula-feeders eat a lot more. Chances are you'll never need to buy eight-ounce bottles.

Do bottles damage teeth?

Here's the Mayo Clinic's answer. Essentially, no -- but the sugars you put in the bottle can damage baby's teeth, particularly if your child goes to bed with the bottle (or sippy cup). Babies shouldn't have anything other than breastmilk, formula, or water for the first six months. Fruit juice isn't as good for a baby as the fruit itself, and cow's milk is too difficult to digest at an early age.

Should I put cereal in the bottle?

I've had everyone from government representatives to well-meaning moms ask me if I put cereal in my baby's bottle. The answer? Heck no! A baby's main source of food is milk until at least the nine month mark. Food earlier than this is for supplementation and eating practice. If you feed your baby cereal in a bottle, he won't be able to practice eating from a spoon, and that's the point of adding cereal to his diet.

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