Parenting

9 Baby-Bottle Hacks to Make Feedings Quicker and Easier

baby bottle with formulaIf you're a baby, you really only have three jobs: eat, sleep, and fill your diapers. If you're a parent, however, you have way too many jobs, including changing all those diapers, getting that baby to sleep, and doing all the prep and cleanup required to feed an infant who might want a bottle as many as eight times a day.

Advertisement

When my daughter was born, I breastfed for the first few months and then, for a variety of reasons, switched to formula. There was a lot I liked about using formula, especially when it was 3 a.m. and I could finally ask my husband to get up and feed the baby. But it was also an adjustment to the multiple steps -- and extra minutes -- it takes to get a bottle ready.

Thankfully, I eventually found some bottle-prep hacks that made my life as a formula-feeding mama a little easier:

1. Don't warm the water. Sure, lots of babies like warm bottles -- but only if that's what they've gotten used to. Instead of getting yourself into a heating routine, skip a step and use room temperature water to mix baby's bottles. Baby won't know what he's missing! This will make formula feeding on the go easier, since you won't have to worry about finding a way to warm the bottle up while running errands. You may also find that as baby gets older, he'll be able to tolerate bottles from the refrigerator as well. This is a totally worthwhile goal, especially if you want to use tip #2.

2. Make a batch in advance. Once you get a sense of your baby's feeding schedule, you can consider mixing a day's worth of bottles in advance or stirring up a pitcher to keep in the fridge. I know mothers of multiples who swear by having a pre-made pitcher of formula so that when a little one is hungry, all you have to do is give it a quick stir and pour. Just remember: Pre-mixed formula, either in the bottle or in a pitcher, is only good for 24 hours, so only make as much as you know you'll need that day.

3. Get an assist from a big sibling: A lot of older siblings are eager to help when a baby arrives -- and it's great to let them help with feeding-related tasks at their level. For example, when my daughter arrived, my son was 4 years old, the perfect age for helping me get bottles out of the cupboard and taking used bottles to the sink. Older kids can fill bottles with water or even take charge of rinsing and cleaning them after use.

4. Prep nighttime bottles before bed: When it comes to night feedings, speed is the name of the game. The quicker that bottle is ready, the faster you can get back to sleep. I personally hated having to turn on the lights to measure out formula, so my simple solution was to fill the nighttime bottle with formula powder and then fill a water bottle with the correct amount of water. When baby woke up, I'd pour in the water, shake, and feed. No need to take a trip to the kitchen or even to flip the light switch.

5. Pre-portion formula for on-the-go feedings: One of my diaper bag essentials was a plastic formula storage container. It has three compartments, which each held enough powder for a small bottle. That, plus a unopened bottle of water, meant not having to carry a bulky container of formula with me and made for much faster bottle making in public. This is key when your little angel decides that she needs to eat now.

More from The Stir: 'Judge Less: Fed is Best' Photo Series Strives to Put an End to the Breast vs. Bottle-Feeding Battle

6. Stick to one style or brand of bottle: Nobody wants to spend minutes listening to a hungry baby crying while you're stuck searching for the right nipple or ring to fit your one clean bottle. I eventually found a brand and style of bottle that worked for us and had only those, so every nipple and ring fit every bottle.

7. Make a one-stop stop: I set up a bottle station on our kitchen counter with a drying rack, a container for nipples, a container for rings, the formula, and a room temperature gallon jug of water. Having everything in one place allowed me to see when I was getting low on clean bottles and made bottle prep faster.

8. Save soap-up time: Rather than wash each bottle after every feeding, at the beginning of the day, I filled a large bowl in the sink with soapy water. After a feeding, I'd rinse the bottle and separate the ring and nipple and throw them in the bowl so any remaining formula didn't get crusty in the nipple. My husband was in charge of washing the bottles and parts when he got home at night.

My husband being in charge of bottle washing brings me to the final (and possibly most simple-to-implement) tip:

9. Partner up: One of the biggest perks of formula feeding is that both parents can be equally engaged in the bonding task of feeding the baby. So if you have a partner, go ahead and team up to make sure baby gets fed and loved.

Are there any bottle prep or cleanup shortcuts we missed?

 

Photo via Alasdair Thomson / iStock

Read More >