Dad 101: How to prepare a baby bottle

Step by by step guide for new dads on how to prepare you'r baby's bottle.

It may be hard to believe right now, but you  will eventually get so good at preparing a baby bottle that you will be able to do it in a sleep-deprived state at 3am, with one hand, and a screaming baby in the other. 

In fact, when I think back on my experiences of heating a baby bottle as a new dad , it is these times that I remember the most vividly.

Since you can’t breastfeed your baby, and your partner is likely to be feeling like a 24-hour milk bar, taking as many of the night feeds  as possible is a very helpful way to help preserve her sanity. 

Yes, fussing around with breast milk, and boiling water and bottles in the early hours may be a bit of a pain – especially under the watchful eye of a hungry  newborn – but I   this is nothing compared to dealing with the pain of cracked nipples, infections  or trying to pump milk from your body!

Sterilise the bottle  

The most important first step is to sterilise the bottle to make sure that it is free of germs, to protect your newborn from infection. There are a couple of different options open to you:
  • Sterilisation machine - The gadget-minded can buy sterilisation machines designed specifically to sterilise baby bottles, and there are low-tech easy-to use-ones you can use in a microwave. 
  • Chemical disinfectant - ou can also sterilise bottles, teats, caps etc., by using recommended chemical disinfectant solutions. 
Boiling water.  To sterilise by boiling, pop the equipment into a large saucepan, covering with clean water. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring the water to the boil, then boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the water to cool. Once the water has cooled take the bottles and other bits and pieces out of the water and shake off any extra water.  
Whatever method you use, make sure you wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling the sterilised equipment and use the bottle immediately, or store it along with the teats and lids in a clean container in the fridge until you need them.  

Warm but not too warm

Fill the bottle with expressed breast milk and then place the bottle in warm water for about five minutes to warm it up. Swirl to mix the milk to make sure it is all an even temperature. Don’t use a microwave for this as they can  sometimes heat unevenly and if your baby drinks some of the milk that is too hot, it can burn their sensitive little mouth . The microwaves can also affect the nutrients in the breast milk.

To check the heat of the milk, squirt a few drops on the skin on the inside of your wrist; it should feel warm or cool – not hot – when it’s about the right temperature, and  you are good to go. I have no idea how we worked out that the inside of your wrist is a  built in temperature gauge, but it could be that the skin there is pretty sensitive. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been told is a fairly reliable way to check if the milk is cool enough for the baby to drink. 

Don’t leave a bottle in warm water longer than 15 minutes – not that a hungry baby will let you! – and do not return any unused milk back to the fridge because of the risk of the milk becoming contaminated – breast milk from a bottle is a one-shot deal.

Bonding time

Make sure your baby is safely cradled in your arms, put the teat of the bottle against the baby’s lips and make sure the bottle is positioned just right so the teat is not pinched closed like a garden hose. When the baby stops suckling, remove the bottle to give baby a break and a burp, then try again. Babies are pretty good at letting you know when they are finished. 

As a dad, you are never going to know what it is like to breastfeed your baby, but helping out with a bottle feed can be a nice way to hang out with your newborn for a while and give your partner a rest.
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