Bottle feeding: Your questions answered

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A baby being fed with a bottle

Isn't bottle feeding lots more hassle?

One of the disadvantages of bottle-feeding is that it involves washing, boiling, sterilising and refrigerating, whether you're using formula or expressed breast-milk. You should sterilise all milk-feeding equipment (including breast pumps) until your baby is 12 months old. Luckily, there's a range of equipment to choose from that can make life a lot easier.

Can babies get oral thrush from bottle feeding?

Sterilising tablets or liquid can be bought from most chemists and supermarkets. Put all the washed equipment in a container with a lid, making sure everything is covered by the solution. Leave for as long as the manufacturer recommends. Don't rinse.

Some mums claim that using tablets caused thrush in their babies mouths. This is debatable, as the solution is also used to clear feeding equipment of the infection when it does arise. If you feel uncomfortable using chemicals, opt for one of the water-based methods below.

What about steamers? Do I need one?

Electronic steam units are quite an investment (around £50) but they usually come with a selection of bottles, teats and other equipment. Their main advantage is that they're quick, taking a maximum of 10 minutes, and do a number of bottles all at once. Once the unit is opened however, the bottles stop being sterile, so steam them just before making up a feed.

Can I microwave bottles?

Some bottles can be sterilised in the microwave, while others need to be placed in a special unit, so you'll need to check with the bottle manufacturer if you're uncertain about the type you have. It takes only 90 seconds to microwave a bottle.

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Don't I need lots of equipment?

Putting your equipment in a pan on the hob requires no more equipment than what's already in your kitchen. This is handy if you're visiting and don't want to takes lots of stuff with you. Make sure that all bottles are cleaned, and then completely covered by the boiling water. Leave for 15 minutes. The major drawback with the hot steam/water methods is that the equipment is scaldingly hot for a while after, not ideal if your baby is suddenly screaming for a drink! Running bottles under water to cool them isn't a good idea, as it stops them being sterile. Your best piece of equipment in this case is a good 10-minute distraction technique!

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