Bottle feeding

Babies in the neonatal unit can have breast milk or formula. Find out more about formula feeding here.

While in the hospital, formula-fed premature babies are usually given a formula designed especially for their nutritional needs. This is usually given by a feeding tube. When your baby is ready to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing, he or she can then be given formula by a bottle.

These formulas contain more of the nutrients that premature infants require – among them iron, fat, protein, several vitamins, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium.

Once your baby is discharged from the hospital, they will be prescribed a preterm formula milk for home. Preterm formula milk aims to provide your baby with nutrients similar to those found in breast milk. This includes the long-chain fatty acids (good for brain development), nucleotides (good for cell development and improving the immune system) and prebiotics (which encourage friendly bacteria in the tummy).

Sterilising bottles

It is important to sterilise all of your baby’s feeding equipment before every feed, including the bottle, teats and retaining rings and caps. This will kill the germs that can gather on your baby’s feeding equipment and ensure it is safe for them to use. There are several ways in which you can sterilise your baby’s feeding equipment, including steam sterilising, sterilising by boiling or cold water sterilising. You can find out more information about these different methods here.

The information on this page is more than two years old