If you’re bottle feeding… Your four-step plan
STEP 1: FEED NO-ADDED-GAS MILK
As you shake your baby’s bottle to mix the formula into the water, you’re inadvertently incorporating air into the liquid. And this can lead to trapped wind, which may contribute to colic. “Bottle-fed babies are often less colicky on ready-to-feed formulas for this reason,” says Shel. “Swirl, rather than shake the bottle to incorporate the powder into the water and let it stand for 20 minutes to allow any bubbles to disperse.” The same applies if you’re reheating expressed breastmilk: swirl it if you want to ensure even heat distribution, don’t shake it.
STEP 2: FINE-TUNE YOUR POSITION
Whether you’re feeding formula or expressed breastmilk, you can reduce the amount of air your baby swallows by perfecting how you hold your baby and the bottle. Read the advice for getting a good latch with a breastfed baby, and aim to position the bottle in the same way. “The bottle should follow the same line as your breast would if you were breastfeeding,” says Shel. “Aim the teat at the pointy part at the back of his head, rather than his ears. This is the position that your baby expects, and it’s how his anatomy works best.” You’ll need to adapt the position, though, to ensure the teat stays full of milk. Any air in the teat may mean that your baby draws that as well as the milk, so keeping it full of milk avoids the possibility. “This means that you may need to start the feed with your baby relatively upright, before reclining him a little as the bottle empties, so that the teat and his head stay in a straight line,” explains Shel.
STEP 3: TRY AN ANTI-COLIC BOTTLE
There’s a huge range of bottles available featuring different valves, vents, air systems and teats to mimic breastfeeding. It’s a good idea to experiment to find one that suits your baby. You’ll know it’s working if the teat stays full of milk as he drains the bottle, and he’s feeding well and comfortably. As he grows, you may need to switch to a different size or shape of teat to continue feeding effectively.
STEP 4: PACE HIS FEEDING
Too much milk, too fast, can give your baby a bloated, colicky feeling. “Offer him a break after every ounce or two,” says Shel. “Milk in a bottle—formula or breast—is all the same consistency. This means your baby doesn’t get the natural cues telling him he’s full, unlike with breastfeeding.” Gently taking the teat from his mouth slows his feeding, giving him chance to decide if he’s still hungry. It’s tempting to want to use every last drop, but listen to your baby if he ‘says’ he’s had enough.