Your milk kit

Bottles and teats

There are a huge range of bottle and teats available out there from well-known brands such as Tommy Teepee and Avent, to own brands and alternatives to bottles for babies who are being breastfed to avoid nipple confusion.

You may find you need to test a few nipples to see what works best for your baby. If your baby suffers from colic/reflux, there are specially-designed bottles to help stop air bubbles forming and being taken in by your baby.   bigstockphoto_Bottle_For_The_Small_Child_1366205

There are different sized teats as well: smaller ones for the newborn and larger ones for the older baby, as well as different shapes, some mimicking the breast, some shaped to fit most comfortably to your baby’s mouth.

There have been some recent concerns over what the actual bottle is made out of and if chemicals from the plastic (BPA) can be passed into your baby. Click here to read more about BPA in baby bottles. As a general rule, try not to microwave any of your baby’s milk in the feeding bottle or indeed any of baby’s food in plastic containers. Heat the bottle in a saucepan of hot water if you can. But don’t worry if you’ve been heating bottle milk in a microwave. The portion of chemicals is so tiny, the UK has decided against banning the manufacture of bottles containing BPA.

Expresser

If you breast feed you may want to invest in an expresser so you can express milk for bottle feeding to free you up and share some of those night feeds. It’s also great for when you get engorged breasts and hand expressing some milk doesn’t relieve it enough. It can also help prevent blocked milk ducts/mastitis. Yay! Some mums also express milk to keep their supply plentiful, especially for those growth spurts. It may not apply for those who prefer to demand feed their baby, but for structured routines it can work very well.

There are two types of expresser: manual and electric.

Electric/battery operated expressers
These express milk much faster than manual pumps and some of the more expensive ones come with adjustable pumping speeds, quick cycling times (the number of sucks per minute) and double pumping capabilities. The main downside is the noise of the motor which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to be discreet, and the larger motorized pumps aren’t as portable, even if they are the most time efficient.

When buying one you need to make sure they come apart for ease of cleaning but are also easy to use and put together – with sleep deprivation your don’t want to be faced with something from the Krypton Factor. If you need to pump both breasts quickly getting a machine with two pumps is best. If a little more expensive.

You can also hire breast pumps through places like the National Childbirth Trust. They’re generally the larger motorized ones for hospital use, when you’ve perhaps had a low birthweight or premature baby.

Manual pumps
These are easier to transport, quiet to use, and ideal if you just want to express occationally, but constant expressing can make your hands ache and be more time-consuming. They are the cheapest option and quite often the most straightforward to use.

Sterilisers

For the first 6 months, it’s best to sterilize all bottles, cups and expressing equipement used for your baby (and anything else they put into their mouths frequently – such as dummies). There are 3 methods of doing this. Boiling in water for 10 minutes, using cold water and sterilizing tablets or buying a specially-developed steriliser. If you breast feed and don’t express you, may not see the point in investing in a steriliser and boiling dummies, and any weaning equipment may be enough. However if you bottle feed or express regularly, a steriliser would be the most time-efficient and easy option.

Microwave sterilizer
Works with the use of steam in a unit that is placed in the microwave for 3-8 minutes. Will hold up to 6 to 8 bottles or other items, and items will remain sterilised for 12 hours if kept in the unit. This is smaller than an electric steriliser, so a good space saver, but obviously you can’t put any metal items in. And you’ll need a microwave …

Electric sterilizer
These also sterilise with the use of steam. They take up to 20  minutes. They generally have have the greatest capacity, so they’re useful if you need to sterilise a number of items and you don’t have a microwave.

Nipple guards and Nipple cream

Breast feeding is the easiest, safest, cheapest and healthiest way to feed your baby – especially once you get past the initial “settling” period. During the first week or so of breast feeding, you may find that a hungry young infant sucking on a very sensitive part of your body, regularly, can cause some soreness, cracking and perhaps a bit of bleeding. After checking the latch is correct (see how to breast feed) you might want to try a nipple guard or nipple cream.

Nipple guards are made from thin silicon shaped like a nipple. The idea is to place it over your nipple before feeding if you have sore and cracked nipples. Your baby can still feel and smell your skin and continue to stimulate your milk supply while suckling. Some people find these awkward to use but they should be tried if breast feeding is becoming unbearable.

Nipple cream is easier to use than the nipple guard but a bit messier. There are a number on the market but mums find the lanolin-based one the most effective. It’s even worth using it as a preventative measure, but also fine to use if your nipples have become cracked. You’ll need to invest in plenty of bra pads!

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