First two days

Making your first feed

After your baby is born, if you do not or cannot breastfeed your baby, the midwives should make sure that you are able to prepare a feed. This will give you the chance to watch someone going through the various steps necessary to make up a bottle safely or discuss how it is done should you need a refresher. How the feed is made up is so important as incorrect preparation (not using water that's the correct temperature, mixing the wrong amounts of powder to water, etc.) can put your baby at risk of infection or illness. Therefore, it is really important that you make sure you have a clear understanding of how to do it so if you haven’t been shown – ask. Even if you think you know, check with a midwife or health visitor as some advice may have changed.

Soon after the birth, it can be difficult to retain this information, so the staff will be happy to answer further questions and make sure you understand the processes and principles you need to follow.

Click here to read the Department of Health Guide to Bottle Feeding for a full step-by-step guide to preparing a bottle feed and feeding your baby by bottle.

Guide to bottle feeding

Feeding time is a valuable time for parents to bond with babies. In the past, in has been common for bottle-fed babies to be fed by several different individuals, but in fact what we are now realising is that the fewer people that feed him, the safer and more secure he will feel and the more closely he will bond with those that do. Your baby should always be held and never be left unattended while feeding from a bottle. By keeping him close and looking into his eyes when feeding he will feel safe and loved and you can be confident that you are feeding him safely.

For simplicity, it is best to follow manufacturers' instructions on the amounts to make up, but remember that your baby will not necessarily finish every bottle. Newborn babies may take quite small volumes to start with, but by the end of the first week of life most babies will ask for approximately 150–200ml for each kilogram they weigh each day – although this will vary from baby to baby, so don't feel he needs to finish the bottle if he doesn't seem to want to, indeed encouraging him to carry on feeding when he appears to have had enough can be harmful as it may lead to excessive weight gain and obesity later on, as well as increasing the possibility that he may vomit.

The Baby Friendly Initiative leaflet 'A guide to infant formula for parents who are bottle feeding' contains further points about the best practices to adopt when feeding your baby.

More information is also available at the NHS Choices website.