2Bottle and formula preparation

Feeding a baby




Feeding a baby

As an au pair, you may be responsible for feeding an infant, whether or not their mum is breastfeeding.

You will need to know how to prepare and feed a baby from a bottle, whether you are using infant formula or breast milk that has been pumped for use in a bottle.

Infant formula is the only safe alternative to breast milk for the first 12 months of a baby’s life.

Regardless of whether the baby you are feeding by a bottle is using breast or formula milk, always remember to check the temperature of the milk that it doesn’t “sting” with heat before giving to a child.



Formula feeding

For babies drinking formula, always follow the instructions on the container for preparation.

Use water that has been boiled and then cooled when preparing formula.

Always discard any leftover formula after a feed – do not reuse it.

Watch this video on bottle preparation


Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network

Breast is best

The recommendation from the World Health Organization is that a baby should be breastfed for at least the first 6 months of a baby’s life, and up to two years old or beyond. Breastfeeding has been proven to provide a variety of good health benefits.

However, there are a variety of reasons why mothers don’t or can’t breastfeed their babies and this is their choice.

If an infant is not breastfed, they should only be given infant formula for the first 12 months of their lives.

A breastfed baby should only ever be breastfed by their mother or by another person if it has been expressed into a sterilized bottle.

Breast milk feeding

A breastfed baby can still be fed even when mum isn’t around.  This is done when a mother uses a breast pump to extract milk that is then refrigerated or frozen until it is used in a bottle.

It is imperative that you understand how to prepare breast milk correctly, so you can keep baby happy and support a breastfeeding mum when she can’t feed her baby herself.

  • When preparing a bottle of breast milk, transfer the milk from its storage container or bag to the bottle.  You may then warm the milk to body temperature by placing the bottle in a bowl of hot water until the correct temperature is reached.
  • When defrosting breast milk, it is best to do so in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Do NOT microwave breast milk to defrost or warm it.
  • Discard unused breast milk after feeding baby, do not reuse or combine later with fresh milk.

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Purple_feeding babyHolding a baby while feeding

It is usually best to hold a baby upright when bottle feeding so they don’t choke on the milk in the bottle.  For newborns, be sure to elevate the head by resting the baby’s head in the crook of your elbow.  Older babies and toddlers often like to hold their own bottle and feed themselves.  Follow the baby’s cues to when they need a break from drinking, or if they want more milk.

Parents should advise you on baby’s feeding schedule and the amount and type of milk you need to feed them.

After a feed

Babies need to be burped after a bottle feed.  Often times air bubbles from the bottle are left in their tummy and can cause pain, spitting up, or even vomiting an entire feed.

Gently hold the baby upright and pat or rub his or her back.  Usually, you will hear a good burp.  If not, don’t worry but do try to keep baby upright while digesting for a little while.

Check with parents if they put their bottles in the dishwasher or wash each part separately in warm, soapy water and air dry. Some bottles need to be sterilized before each use.