How should I hold my baby when feeding with a bottle? Formula Feeding

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Mom holding and feeding baby.
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There are many ways to hold your baby while bottle-feeding, but only a few may work for you. Learn what experts recommend and which positions work best for other moms.

Cradle Baby Upright

"My recommended position is to cradle the baby in your arms, while always ensuring the baby is upright. This position helps your baby swallow and prevents ear infections, since the formula can flow back into the middle ear if they're lying flat. It also helps if the baby has acid reflux or painful gas. I've noticed many mothers find a feeding pillow helpful to find proper positioning and improve comfort." -- Skyler Gardner RN, BSN, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA

Hold the Bottle Horizontally

"This mimics breastfeeding and slows down the flow of milk significantly, so baby doesn't eat too fast. We want to slow the flow down [and] not have her eat too fast to avoid her becoming gassy or spitting up. It also helps the baby recognize when she is full, and to not overeat. When breastfeeding, a baby has to work to pull the milk from the breast, so a paced bottle-feed and holding her horizontally helps mimic breastfeeding. You can also remove the bottle every 30 to 60 seconds to help...

"This mimics breastfeeding and slows down the flow of milk significantly, so baby doesn't eat too fast. We want to slow the flow down [and] not have her eat too fast to avoid her becoming gassy or spitting up. It also helps the baby recognize when she is full, and to not overeat. When breastfeeding, a baby has to work to pull the milk from the breast, so a paced bottle-feed and holding her horizontally helps mimic breastfeeding. You can also remove the bottle every 30 to 60 seconds to help slow the feed down." -- Emily Silver, MS, NP-C , certified family nurse practitioner, co-owner of Boston NAPS, Boston, MA

Do What Feels Comfortable

"I found cradling her up against my chest while feeding her was great for bonding. Instead, you can lean her up against your knees, lie beside her or do really anything that feels comfortable."

Bond With Baby

"Make eye contact with baby, talk to him, sing to him. Feeding is a great time for bonding and for her to get to know your face up close."

Hold Baby Close

"With bottle feeding, your baby still needs to feel the love bond, so lots of snuggles and closeness in the early days is important."

Infants Like to Snuggle

Formula fed infants like to be snuggled when fed just like the breast-fed infant. Hold the infant and provide a skin-to-skin experience during this time, which can provide an incredible bonding experience. Focus on eye contact as you feed. Watch your infant’s pace and when there is a pause in swallowing after a few minutes -hold the infant upright to burp. When the infant is done with the bottle, it is helpful to continue to snuggle and hold them upright for an additional 15 minutes to...

Formula fed infants like to be snuggled when fed just like the breast-fed infant. Hold the infant and provide a skin-to-skin experience during this time, which can provide an incredible bonding experience. Focus on eye contact as you feed. Watch your infant’s pace and when there is a pause in swallowing after a few minutes -hold the infant upright to burp. When the infant is done with the bottle, it is helpful to continue to snuggle and hold them upright for an additional 15 minutes to allow for some digestion. --Christina J. Valentine MD,MS,RD,FAAP


Dr. Christina J. Valentine is a neonatologist, nutritionist, mom of 3, and proudly directs medical affairs for North America at RB
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The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.