If you intend to bottle feed your baby you need infant formula milk, bottles with teats, a sterilising kit, and maybe a few other not-so-essential items. You can also feed expressed breast milk from a bottle.
Here is a complete list of the things you may need:
There are a variety of infant formula milks available. It doesn't matter which brand you choose, as long as it complies with government standards for formula milk. Formula milk is sold in powder form that you use to make up feeds according to instructions. If you plan to formula-feed your baby from birth, it is wise to familiarise yourself with instructions for preparing feeds before baby is born.
You can also buy cartons and bottles of ready-to-feed formula milk, which may be more convenient for when you are away from home. Ready-to-feed milk is a more expensive option than powder, but it is handy to keep some in the cupboard and convenient for taking with you into hospital when you give birth.
To begin with, you need about six 4oz feeding bottles with teats suitable for newborns. As the weeks progress and baby starts taking bigger feeds, you will need to use larger 9oz bottles. You can use larger bottles from the beginning if you like, as the smaller bottles will be redundant after the first few weeks. Wide-necked bottles are easiest to keep clean.
Teats are available in different shapes with different sized holes to allow slow, medium, fast and variable milk flow rates. As baby grows and starts sucking harder to get at the milk, it is probably time to move up a teat stage. You may need to experiment until you find a teat that suits your baby. Teats must be replaced every so often if they become worn or damaged.
You can buy bottle feeding starter kits that contain different sized bottles with a variety of teats, along with other handy extras. If you feed your baby expressed breast milk from a bottle, you will probably want to invest in a manual or electric breast pump, unless you prefer to express by hand.
A bottle brush is a long-handled brush for removing milk residues from bottles, teats, breast pump parts and other feeding equipment. Look for a brush with a curved brush head to clean hard-to-reach parts of bottles, and a plastic handle that won't scratch your equipment.
Bottle feeding equipment must be washed, rinsed and sterilised before use, until your baby is 12 months old. You can use an electric or microwave steam steriliser, or sterilising solution such as Milton. For an exclusively bottle fed baby, it is convenient to have a steriliser with a large capacity that sterilises six bottles at a time. You can also sterilise by boiling, as long as whatever you sterilise is safe to boil.
Make sure you know how your sterilising equipment works before baby is born, to save you and your partner panicking about what to do at the last minute!
Muslin cloths make fantastic burp cloths and you can use them to catch milk that dribbles from baby's mouth during feeds. Muslin cloths have all sorts of uses, so don't be surprised if you end up with a stash of 20 or more!
If your baby dribbles milk excessively during feeds, he may end up with a neck rash from all the moisture. A supply of absorbent milk feeding bibs for soaking up dribbles and spills around the neckline could be a good investment. Look for bibs that are nice and soft with a high neck, easy to fasten and unfasten, and that can be washed in the washing machine with your usual washing loads.
Also known as a thermabag, you may find an insulated bottle carrier useful for when you are out and about with your baby. Put hot water in a bottle and keep it in the insulated bag until you need it, at which time all you have to do is add the right amount of infant formula milk powder (or you could just take a thermos flask filled with hot water and a sterilised bottle with you instead).
You can also use the bag to keep pre-prepared bottles of formula milk cold, but this practice is not recommended by health professionals.
A milk powder dispenser is a handy little plastic tub that holds a pre-measured amount of infant formula milk powder. You can fill the dispenser, throw it in your bag, and have the exact amount of powder ready for making up a bottle when you are away from home. Milk powder dispensers are also useful for measuring out the right amount of formula for babysitters, so they can prepare feeds easily in your absence.
Electric bottle warmers are like marmite – people either love them or hate them. A bottle warmer takes around four minutes to heat a small 4oz bottle of milk, and up to 10 minutes for larger bottles. This doesn't seem like a long time, but it may feel like forever in the middle of the night when you have a hungry baby screaming to be fed.
If you want to warm a bottle of milk, placing it in a jug of hot water will do the job just as well and probably quicker, although having a bottle warmer upstairs does save you a trip downstairs in the middle of the night to boil the kettle. If you do decide on a bottle warmer, make sure it fits the brand of bottles you are using before you buy.
A small thermos flask or travel bottle warmer that stores hot water may come in handy for heating bottles when you are out and about.