How to prepare your baby's bottle

Date: October, 2016


If you have decided to bottle feed your baby, this booklet is for you. Like any food, powdered infant formula is not sterile. It may contain bacteria like Cronobactor spp‚Äč and Salmonella that could make your baby sick, causing vomiting, diarrhoea and, in rare cases, meningitis. This booklet will help you to prepare your baby’s bottle feeds safely.

What you need

To feed your baby formula milk, you need

  • a clean work surface
  • facilities to wash your hands and equipment
  • a supply of bottles and teats
  • a bottle brush and a small teat brush
  • sterilising equipment and tongs
  • suitable water and a way to boil it
  • formula powder

things to remember when preparing baby's bottle

How to prepare a bottle feed

When preparing a bottle feed, it is important that the water is boiled and left to cool for 30 minutes. By boiling the water you make it sterile. By allowing it to cool for 30 minutes, the water reaches a temperature of 70°C. At this temperature it is hot enough to kill harmful bacteria that may be in the formula powder and cool enough not to damage a lot of the nutrients in the formula.

Feed size and feeding patterns

a baby bottle and feedIf you have any concerns about how much milk your baby is having or how often they are feeding, speak to your public health nurse or doctor.

Your baby will develop their own pattern of feeding, which can vary a little from day to day. Babies generally feed according to their appetite. It is good to allow your baby to recognise their own hunger cues and feeling of fullness. Do not force your baby to take more than they want or to finish the amount prepared.

Babies may not always want to feed at regular intervals (for example, every three or four hours). Young babies tend to need feeds more regularly, including during the night. However, this varies from baby to baby. Babies tend to gradually increase the amount they drink at each feed. Once you start introducing food, the amount of milk they drink will reduce gradually. The following chart shows how much a baby usually drinks.

Childs age and number of bottle fees needed

Feeding your baby

  • Make sure you and your baby are well supported and comfortable during feeds
  • Make sure the milk is at the correct temperature
  • Help your baby to avoid swallowing air while feeding
  • If necessary, wind your baby to help get rid of swallowed air
  • Do not leave your baby alone with the bottle
  • Throw away any milk not used within two hours from when you start to feed your baby

Other drinks

  • Give your baby breast milk or formula milk as their main drink until they are at least one year old
  • Young babies generally do not need extra drinks
  • Cooled boiled water is the most suitable drink if your baby does need extra drinks between feeds
  • From about six months, gradually introduce a cup or beaker for drinks. Aim to replace all bottles with a cup or beaker by the time your baby is about one year old.

Also included in this booklet

  • 10-step plan to preparing the bottle feed
  • Cleaning and sterilizing
  • Storing and re-warming feeds
  • Feeding your baby while travelling
  • Creches and bottled water

For more information or to order a copy of this booklet, email or call the safefood helpline:

NI 08000851683
ROI 1850404567