There are lots of different ways to feed a baby. Well, two. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Whatever you decide to do, figuring out what you need takes time. Luckily, we've broken things down and laid out the essentials you'll need whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
OK, we'll start with an easy one: feeding your baby is important. For starters, they need it to survive. It also gives you and baby some much-needed time together to grow that bond between you. In the early days, you are inundated with visitors and people who want to hold the baby. Feeds are essential because you and your little one can lock yourselves away for a bit of time alone.
Breastfeeding is regarded as the best way to feed your baby. It nurtures that early bond and gives baby all the good things they need to grow strong. But it's not the only way. For any number of reasons, you may find that bottle feeding is better for you and your little one. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed about it. Like anything with parenting, find the way that works for you both.
We've pulled together some essential items, whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding...
Breastfeeding | The Essentials
There's not much to breastfeeding really, you don't have to stock up on lots of essentials. You're pretty much a one-woman milk production line. Nevertheless, there are additional items that may help make things easier.
Sometimes, breastfeeding doesn’t go to plan. You might not be around, or you might just be busy when your baby gets hungry, and that’s okay. Prepare by using a breast pump. Breast pumping is known as expressing - we use it as an excuse to run around singing 'Express Yourself!' - but it's also a great way to guarantee you always have extra milk at the ready.
Electric or Manual?
Engineers design breast pumps to be as comfortable as possible. You can use a manual breast pump or use an electric breast pump, such as the Medela, which does the expressing for you.
There’s the option of a single pump or if you’re looking to save even more time - or feeding more than one mouth - a double. Calma Solitaire is a technology in the Medela pumps which mimics the natural sucking behaviour of a baby to ensure the optimum flow of milk.
Tips about Breast Pumps
Even if you and your baby are never apart, there are loads of reasons why breast pumps can be beneficial. They...
- Relieve the pain of full, engorged breasts
- Stimulate milk production and build up your milk supply
- Help with leaking breasts
- Assist a baby that can’t latch on
- Allow your partner a chance to feed and bond with your baby
- Give your poor, sore nipples a break
Storing your breastmilk
You store expressed milk in a bottle or bag. Bags save space and are ideal for freezing breastmilk. Bottles are easily changed from storage-use to feeding-use simply by swapping the lid. When storing breast milk, you should label the container with the date it was expressed.
It is best to use refrigerated breastmilk within 3 days of expressing, or 5 days if your fridge is set at less than 4ºC. If stored in a freezer below 18ºC, it can be safe for up to 6 months. Babies tend to prefer to receive their milk at room temperature, around 20ºC.
Breastfeeding Important Notes:
Sterilise your baby feeding products to ensure that your little one doesn’t get poorly. This can be done with a microwave steam steriliser; all it needs is a small amount of water and it will kill harmful bacteria on your feeding bottles and accessories.
These are a great way to keep you and baby comfortable while you feed. Feeding can sometimes take time, so making sure you're both calm and relaxed is essential. Feeding pillows offer comfort and support for the two of you.
Nursing Bras and Tops
Baby's aren't like us. They don't suppress hunger pangs because they're trying to make sure their lunch sees them through until teatime. When they're hungry, they're hungry.
Even with a proper feeding schedule in place, you might find yourself caught short. For that reason, if you're on the go and need to feed, a nursing bra and nursing top are the quickest and easiest way to get baby fed without removing layers of clothing.
Trust us - they'll always come in handy.
Bottle feeding | The Essentials
If you are bottle feeding your baby, here are some essentials that can help.
Whether it’s your first or hundredth-time bottle feeding, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which baby bottles to buy. The good news is, there is no evidence that one bottle is better than any other. The main thing to take into consideration when choosing a bottle is to pick ones that have a shape and design that are easy to clean. You want to avoid ones with shapes that make cleaning the bottle difficult as this can cause a buildup of germs.
Bottle Preparation Machine
If making up all that formula feels like hassle, you can buy electric bottle preparation machines - they're quick, easy and means you can focus more of you attention on what matters - baby!
A great way to quickly clean your bottles is with a bottle brush, they get into all the nook and crannies that a simple sponge or cloth can't. Be sure to wash your brush regularly as this will prevent germs spreading. Check the warnings on your bottle packaging, as some brushes can damage teats.
You may not be familiar with Muslin Squares just yet, but you soon will be. Eventually, they will become a staple of your lives as you and your partner hunt for a clean one every time you feed. For that reason, we recommend stocking up on plenty of them. Don't forget, they also make a great comforter or swaddle wrap for your child.
Sterilising | Keeping Your Bottles Clean
Sterilising is essential for not only keeping your baby bottles clean which helps make sure that no unwanted bacteria reach the bottles or your baby. There are a variety of ways to sterilise your child's bottles, plus a range of sterilising essentials you can back to help.
There are many different types of sterilisers so make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. However, generally, to clean these you need to first make sure bottles are pre-washed.
Then place the bottle and teats face down in the steriliser to be sure they’re cleaned properly. Follow the instructions for adding water to the unit and turn on. Most sterilisers will have a light which indicates that the cycle is complete.
Boiling the bottles:
Similar to steaming, this cleaning method is very effective as it quickly kills any bacteria left from hand washing the bottles. Although it’s a quick method to ensuring your bottles are sterile, it can damage the teats so be sure to regularly check for any wear and tear.
Place the pre-washed bottles in a large saucepan on the stove and add enough water to cover the bottles. Once the bottles are in, cover the saucepan and leave to boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the stove and leave the bottles to cool off and once they have, remove them from the stove and rinse when ready for use.
Cold water sterilising solution:
This a great, quick and easy method favoured by many mothers. It’s just as safe as hot water sterilisation and is extremely effective against bacteria. In either a sterilising unit or plastic container with a lid, add a non-toxic solution which comes in both liquid or tablet, to cold water.
Once that’s done, take the pre-washed the bottles and put them into the prepared solution and close the lid. After just 15-30mins the bottles will be sterile and ready to use. You can leave them in the solution and use them when needed but, be sure to renew the solution daily.
Breastfeeding or Bottle feeding: In Summary
Well, that's it. Everything you could need for breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby.
Remember, feeding can be a complicated and emotional process, as it feels like a lot is riding on it. Take your time, remember that you're not experiencing anything other mums haven't, and slowly you and baby will find a method that works for both of you.