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A Few Baby Feeding Safety Tips
By Kim Green-Spangler
Baby bottles are often a very integral part of feeding for both breastfed babies (expressed milk left with a caregiver) and formula fed babies. There are many more choices for parents to make when selecting the type of bottle to use - traditional bottles, angled bottles, collapsible bottles and flow adjustable bottles, just to name a few. Regardless of the type of bottle used, there are a few safety measures that can prevent injuries to your precious baby.

Baby Bottles and Nipples

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.

Getting Breast Milk and Formula to Appropriate Temps

There are a number of safe ways to warm breast milk or formula, with safe being the key. This said, microwave use for warming baby bottles is strictly not recommended. Your microwave creates hot pockets in foods that can remain even after shaking a liquid, such as formula. Think of taking a sip of scalding hot coffee, or a bite of food that should have been cooled a little longer. It can be very painful. Why take the chance on a painful burn, when there are other ways to go? Besides, did you know that heating breast milk can destroy nutrients?

First, it is perfectly fine to give both breast milk and baby formula at body temperature or cooler, so the use of any heating may be a moot point. Though baby may prefer a cooler bottle in warmer temps, and a slightly warmer bottle when there's a nip in the air. If your formula fed or breast milk fed baby prefers a little warmth, try running a bottle under warmer tap water with the cap on, checking temperature frequently. Or place a bottle of formula in a pot or pan of heated water that has been removed from the flame. Shake to mix, check bottle and remove once desired temperature has been reached.

When away from a kitchen, a baby bottle warmer set is an ideal way to quickly get a bottle ready for a late night nursery feeding. When traveling, having a portable baby bottle warmer that simply plugs into a cigarette lighter can be a lifesaver. They're a little more time consuming, so plan ahead, but great when on the go. Most are adjustable for various sizes, and after bottles become things of the past they serve as great travel mug warmers! There is a great selection of warmers on the market, with adjustable opening for various bottles, ones for bottles and baby food jars and some that ate capable of warming expressed milk bags without melting the plastic.

No matter which way your baby's beverage of choice is warmed, it should always be tested on the inside of a wrist for temperature appropriateness prior to giving it to baby. It should not feel hot, just warm.

Baby Food

Just like beverages, baby food must be warmed safely to protect baby's delicate mouth. Do not place jars of food in a microwave, as not all glass jars or plastic containers are microwave-safe. If microwave use is a necessity, remove the food from its jar and place in a microwave bowl/cup/plate and top with a paper towel. When removing warmed food from a microwave, make sure baby is not in your arms, or under foot. A hot object could be a surprise and cause a spill, or baby could jostle the object and cause it to spill all over both of you. If a microwave is not available, placing a closed jar under running hot tap water or in a pan of boiled water until sufficiently warmed. Remember, just like bottles, the temperature of baby food should be checked before offering it to baby.

Warm in all cases, is just right!

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