How To Feed Your Baby From A Bottle

By Marian Law, M.A., RD on September 15, 2011
Hold your baby close when you give her a bottle. Hold your baby’s back and neck straight, just as you would if you were breastfeeding your baby. Holding and cuddling your baby is important for her to know she is loved. Her head should be tipped back, just a bit, and her head held higher than her body so that formula doesn’t get into her inner ear when she swallows.

Brush the bottle nipple against your baby’s cheek or lips. She will open her mouth. You don’t need to pry her lips apart or force the nipple in her mouth. Hold your baby still while you feed her, without checking how much formula is still in the bottle. Hold the bottle on an angle so that the nipple is always full of milk and so that your baby doesn’t suck in air.

When everything is going well, your baby will suck and swallow easily without coughing, gagging or coming off the bottle to cry. If you see any of these behaviours, something is wrong. It could be that the milk is coming out of the nipple too fast or too slow.

When you hold the bottle upside down, the formula should drip out at about one drop per second. It is normal for a baby to bring up a little formula during or after a feeding. Burp your baby after the feeding.

Your baby should not be lying down to feed. This could give her an earache, or she could choke. Older babies who have a habit of falling asleep holding a bottle can develop early tooth decay.

How much formula to offer your baby

This table is only a guide. The amount of formula needed varies from baby to baby, and from day to day. Let your baby decide how much to eat and how often.

How to know when your baby is hungry

Your baby knows how much she needs to eat and how often she needs to eat. It’s your responsibility to understand what your baby is telling you. When she is hungry, her eyes may be open more than usual and her face will look bright. When you touch your baby’s mouth, cheek or chin, she will turn toward your touch; this is called the rooting reflex.

She may bring her hands up under her chin or suck on her hands. Eventually she will fuss, but this is a late sign of hunger. When you learn to read your baby’s earlier hunger signs, she won’t have to fuss to let you know she’s hungry.

How to know when your baby has had enough formula

Let your baby have as much or as little formula as she wants, and stop the feeding when she shows she is full. Your baby has had enough formula when her sucking slows, when she turns her head away or when she falls asleep. Your baby will stop showing the rooting reflex. Some babies will stop feeding for a little bit and socialize. When you offer the bottle again, just offer it to check if she wants more. Some babies get full suddenly and don’t want another mouthful. Other babies gradually slow down and lose interest. Always respect your baby’s signs and don’t try to get her to finish the bottle.

Throw out any formula left in the bottle within one hour after the feeding begins.


1st and 2nd week

3 to 8 weeks

2 to 3 months

3 to 4 months

5 to 7 months

8 to 12 months
6 to 10

6 to 8

5 to 6

4 to 5

4 to 5


50 to 100 ml (2 to 3 oz)

125 to 150 ml (4 to 5 oz)

150 to 175 ml (5 to 6 oz)

175 to 210 ml (6 to 7 oz)

210 to 250 ml (7 to 8 oz)

210 to 250 ml (7 to 8 oz)

Content from the Canadian Baby and Child Care Encyclopaedia.

By Marian Law, M.A., RD| September 15, 2011

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