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12 Essential Feeding Facts Parents Should Know

1. Silicone nipples (not latex), are preferred. They are dishwasher safe, allergy-free, and less porous than latex. (But many newborns prefer latex.)
2. Choose a bottle that minimizes the extra air that your baby takes in during feeding. Try those with plastic liners or angled bottles.
3. If you have a safe water source, such as city tap water, it is not necessary to use sterilized water to make formula or clean bottles and nipples.
4. Running the bottle equipment through hot soapy water or using the dishwasher is generally sufficient.
5. Be very careful if heating a bottle in the microwave. Always check the temperature of the milk by pouring a few drops on the inside of the wrist.
6. Always choose iron-fortified formula to prevent anemia. Getting enough iron in the first year of life is critical. It’s a myth that iron-fortified formula causes constipation or other digestive problems.
7. Babies under age three are rarely lactose-intolerant; cow’s-milk formula is commonly used.
8. If your baby has colic, excessive spitting-up, diarrhea, constipation and gas, call your family doctor, but know that colic occurs in at least 30 percent of babies, and that almost all babies spit up regularly!
9. Feed your baby in a secure position with her head raised. Make sure your baby’s head is higher than her hips, so it is easier for her to swallow.
10. Hold the nipple steady, and tilt the nipple to ensure that your baby takes in less air with the formula he drinks.
11. Feed your baby as much as she wants each time she wakes and seems hungry. Bottle-fed babies usually want to eat every three to five hours.
12. Look for signs the baby has had enough. He will pull his body back, pull away from the nipple, or twist his head away. Do not force your baby to finish a bottle if he is no longer hungry. Throw away any formula he doesn’t drink. (Germs grow in warm milk.)

Marybeth Lambe, M.D., is a physician and adoptive mother in Washington state.

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