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Bottle feeding

How to feed your baby from a bottle using either breast milk or infant formula.

When bottle feeding your baby it’s important to control how fast your baby drinks. This is called paced bottle feeding. This method allows your baby to drink at a comfortable pace and helps prevent choking and overfeeding.

Your baby will need a vitamin D supplement if you are bottle feeding breast milk or formula. Learn about giving baby vitamin D.

Watch your baby to know when they are hungry and when they are full.

Access our Baby Feeding Support Clinics if you need help.

Bottle feeding expressed breast milk

You can choose to warm breast milk that has been in the fridge or freezer. Learn more about expressing breast milk and how to safely thaw and store it.

Any unused warmed breast milk should be thrown away after feeding. Do not reheat the bottle of breast milk.

Bottle feeding infant formula

You can feed your baby infant formula alone or in combination with breast milk. We can help you get started.

There are 3 kinds of infant formula:

Peel Public Health recommends that powdered formula should not be given to babies younger than 2 months. This type of formula can contain bacteria that can harm your baby. Give babies this age ready–to–feed formula or a liquid concentrate formula mixed with water.

For babies older than 2 months using powdered formula, we recommend parents and caregivers use boiled water cooled to no less than 70°C before mixing.

Always choose an iron–fortified cow’s milk–based infant formula, unless otherwise advised by your doctor or health care provider.

Learn more about preparing and handling powdered infant formula.

More information

Sometimes infant formula can be recalled. Refer to Health Canada recalls and safety alerts to make sure there are no recalls on the formula you are using.

Always test the temperature of the formula before starting to feed your baby. Let a drop of formula fall on your wrist. It should feel warm.

Do not add cereal or thickeners to formula because:

  • Your baby will not get the right amount of nutrients for proper growth and development.
  • It can cause choking.

When your baby is bottle feeding it’s important to control how fast your baby drinks. This is called paced bottle feeding.

This method allows your baby to drink at a comfortable pace and helps prevent choking and overfeeding.

How to pace bottle feed

  • Hold your baby in an upright position, supporting the head and neck with your hand.
  • Feed your baby skin-to-skin if possible.
  • Use a wide-based, slow-flow bottle nipple.
  • Touch your baby’s upper lip with the bottle nipple, to encourage your baby to open their mouth wide.
  • Gently allow your baby to pull the nipple into their mouth. Do not force the nipple into baby’s mouth.
  • Keep the bottle horizontal so that the nipple is partially full. This will slow the flow of milk.
  • You may have been told to keep the nipple full of milk while feeding to avoid your baby swallowing air. You don’t need to worry all babies swallow air while feeding.

Remove the bottle if your baby is:

  • Swallowing quickly without taking a breath after each swallow.
  • Spilling milk from their mouth.
  • Opening eyes widely.
  • Stiffening of arms and legs.
  • Flaring nostrils.
  • Has lips that are turning blue.

Count your baby’s sucks and swallows. If your baby doesn’t take a breath every 3 to 5 sucks, remove the bottle and take a 5 second pause to let your baby breathe.

Your baby may suck harder when you try to take the nipple from their mouth, even though they need a breath. Often your baby will swallow, then breathe, and then open their mouth. This shows you they are ready to begin feeding again.

You can change position when bottle feeding. This will help ensure your baby doesn’t develop a preference for the left or right side when feeding.

Never prop a bottle in your baby’s mouth as it can cause choking. It can also lead to tooth decay or give your baby too much or too little milk.

Burping your baby helps release air that is swallowed during feeding. Burping can be done about halfway through a feeding or when your baby shows signs.

Signs of needing to burp:

  • arching the back
  • getting cranky or fussy
  • pulling or bending legs
  • pulling away from the bottle