~ Make sure to use a bottle and nipple which have been thoroughly washed and rinsed for each feeding. Sterilize each component according to the manufacturer's instructions before the first use.
~ Baby bottles should be checked carefully before each use for any crack in the bottle itself, and once nipple and sleeve are attached, bottle should be inverted and checked for leaks. A cracked or poorly secured top can create a huge mess and a double check can easily avert this possibility.
~ Bottle nipples should also be inspected carefully before each use. If cracks, tears, changes in color, or enlarged openings are found, discard the nipple immediately. If pieces of the nipple were to dislodge, the child could choke. The rule of thumb for latex nipples is to replace nipples that are used daily every three months, and those that are used less frequently after six months. Silicone nipples are more resilient and don't break down as quickly, but should still be inspected carefully. Many parents enlarge nipples by using needles, making crosscuts, etc. These days nipples can be purchased in varying flow rates, making needles and crosscuts obsolete and nipples much safer.
~ Always follow the exact instructions for preparing formula. Improper preparation, such as adding too much or too little water, can cause nutritional and digestive problems.
~ Remember to always check the temperature of the bottle's contents to avoid scalding your infant's mouth. Shake a few drops of liquid onto your skin to ensure it is not too hot.
~ Never heat a bottle in the microwave. Microwaving not only breaks down important nutrients in breastmilk and formula, but it can cause hot spots in the liquid, which may burn your child's mouth. Vigorous shaking does not guarantee all hot spots have dissipated.
~ Always hold your baby semi-upright to ensure the liquid flows down the throat, not into the nose, which can lead to ear infections, or into the lungs, which can cause babies to choke.
~ Never leave your child unattended while feeding. No matter how old your infant is, there is always a chance s/he may choke or spit up during a feeding, blocking their airway. It is also important for parents to observe their child's feeding habits and preferences, watching for any changes or problems. Use feeding time to bond with your baby and enjoy the closeness!
~ Avoid letting babies fall asleep while sucking on a bottle. Not only can this lead to choking, but it can also cause serious tooth decay as infants may fall asleep with some liquid still in their mouths, which can erode the enamel.
~ Never reuse milk or formula that has been sitting out. Dangerous bacteria can breed in the unused portions, making your baby seriously ill. If your child does not finish the entire bottle, discard that unused liquid.