Ask the experts

Feeding equipment throws up a whole raft of queries and potential problems. Here’s what the experts advise for some of the more common questions

Why is it so important to follow good hygiene practices when preparing bottle feeds? 

“Manufactured baby milks can sometimes still contain bacteria that can multiply very quickly in bottle feeds, particularly at room temperature,” says Tanya Thomas, BSc (Hons) RD freelance paediatric dietitian. “An infant’s immune system is not fully developed, so they can pick up infections and get diarrhoea if feeding bottles and equipment are not sterilised properly. Ideally feeds should be made up one at a time as bacteria can still grow in bottles kept in the fridge (although more slowly). Water used to make up feeds should be boiled tap water left to cool for no longer than 30 minutes.”

Ideally feeds should be made up one at a time as bacteria can still grow in bottles kept in the fridge 

There are several different types of teats. How can I help a mother decide which one is right for her baby?

“There is no evidence that one type of teat is preferable to another,” explains Tanya. “Teats are made from either silicone or latex and babies tend to prefer one or the other. Latex teats tend to be softer and more flexible while silicone teats may be more durable. The flow rate of the feed depends on the number of holes in the teat. The type of teat may need to be changed to suit individual infants. Infants may have to try more than one teat before choosing the most appropriate.”

Boots UK nutritionist Vicky Pennington advises: “Teat flow is very important when bottles are first introduced. Parents should let babies guide them when it’s time to move to the next flow rate. For example, they may fall asleep with the bottle if it’s too tiring to get their feed through a hole that is too small, or the teat may collapse if they seem impatient as they feed.

“The teat sizes are: 

  • Slow – suitable for newborns
  • Medium – suitable for babies aged three to six months
  • Fast – suitable for babies from six months
  • Variflow – the flow adjusts to the baby’s sucking action and is suitable for thickened feeds.”

What are the do’s and don’ts of storing prepared bottle feeds?

Tanya says: “Ideally, bottle feeds should be made up and used within two hours, but this is not always possible. If the feeds need to be stored they should be cooled quickly and refrigerated at below 5˚C. Any feed not used within 24 hours should be discarded. When reheating feeds, they should not be heated for longer than 15 minutes, and never reheated more than once.”

“Ready-made formula milk can be used if preferred,” Vicky adds. “Cartons or plastic bottles of opened but unused ready-made formula milk can be stored at the back of the fridge (not in the door) for up to 24-48 hours at a temperature below 5˚C, depending on the product.”



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