Babies need to be safe when they are being fed. When babies are breastfed every time they are hungry, it’s easy to keep them safe. But not every baby is fed at the breast all the time and some are not breast fed at all.

Knowing how to safely bottle feed is really important:

• for anyone who takes care of your baby when you work or go to school
• for foster parents, or adoptive parents
• if your doctor told you not to breastfeed
• if you have decided not to breastfeed

Most of the rules for safe bottle feeding are the same whether the bottle contains your breast milk or infant formula. If you decide to feed your baby from a bottle sometimes or all the time, it will be more difficult to make sure your baby is safe. The following tips below will help!

Hold your baby close Always hold your baby close when you are feeding her. Your warmth and eye contact will help her feel loved and secure.

Not too fast or too much Make sure your baby doesn’t drink more than she needs. It helps to hold the bottle mostly sideways, not straight up. The milk will then flow into your baby’s mouth at the right speed. This will help your baby from eating too much and avoid becoming obese later.

Take breaks Take breaks when you feed your baby. Give your baby a chance to show you that she is not hungry anymore or that she’s still hungry.

No bottle at bedtime Make sure you do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. When your baby is put to bed with a bottle, the milk often stays in her mouth for a long time. This can cause cavities in her baby teeth. Cavities are painful and stop her from learning to eat well.

Less milk at one year of age Little by little, stop bottle feeding your baby when she is about a year old. Feed her less milk and more family food. She is able to use a cup by then, and she needs to eat a variety of foods. If your baby continues bottle feeding for too long she could become anemic. This means she doesn’t have enough iron in her blood for the right amount of energy and growth.

Follow directions on formula can If you feed your baby formula, make sure you follow the directions on the can when you mix it. This is very, very important. If you add too much water, your baby will not receive enough nutrition to be healthy. If you don’t add enough water, the formula can cause serious problems for your baby’s stomach, heart, liver and other organs. Either way, drinking formula with too much water or too little water is extremely dangerous!

Ask for more information! There are other important tips for safely feeding your baby infant formula. It’s a good idea to ask your WIC educator or your doctor for directions.