Having the right equipment will make bottle feeding a lot easier

There are obviously a few things you’ll need before you start bottle feeding. The following is what we think are the essentials. You can get everything here from the supermarket or pharmacy – it doesn’t have to be anything special or fancy!

As always, if you have any questions it’s a good idea to speak to your maternal and child health nurse or healthcare professional.

Bottles and feeding cups

You’ll need 2 to 4 bottles or feeding cups if you’re using formula for top-up feeds or mixed feeding, and you’ll need 4 to 6 bottles or feeding cups if you’re exclusively bottle feeding.

Bottles and feeding cups come in all shapes and sizes. (Learn more about moving to a feeding cup here.)

You may want to start with a smaller bottle, but there’s no reason you can’t start with larger bottles to save you buying them when your baby is older and needs more formula. Generally, a 120 to 180 mL bottle will suit most babies up to 6 months of age, and a bottle or feeding cup with at least a 180 mL capacity should suit most babies from 6 to 12 months.

A BPA-free plastic bottle or cup is preferred to glass, as it won’t break as easily. Plain shaped ones with a wide neck are easier to clean. They should also have volume markings on the sides to make it easier to measure and prepare feeds.

Teats

You’ll need as many teats as you have bottles. There are a variety of types available, with different flow rates, but the choice usually comes down to personal preference.

In general, slower flowing teats are best for newborns and faster flowing ones are best for older babies. You may need to try a few different ones to see what your baby prefers.

You can check the flow rate by holding a bottle of prepared formula upside down. The milk should drip out steadily but not pour out in a stream. If the bottle has to be shaken, the teat is too slow and your baby may fall asleep before drinking as much as they need.

Some babies prefer a certain type of teat, but the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) suggest no teat is better than another. There is also no evidence to support the benefits of particular teats for colicky (unsettled) babies.

Cleaning, sterilising and storage equipment

You will need the following things for cleaning:

  • Hand soap and a clean cloth to wash and dry your hands
  • Washing detergent for washing the feeding equipment
  • Bottle and teat brush to ensure everything is thoroughly cleaned
  • Forceps or tongs to remove the sterilised items from the steriliser.

The things you’ll need for sterilising will depend on the method you have chosen:

  • Boiling – a large saucepan
  • Steaming – an electric steaming unit or microwave steam sterilising kit
  • Chemical – chemical steriliser and a large glass bowl or plastic container.

You’ll also need large, airtight containers with lids for storing clean equipment.