As I mentioned in ‘On your marks…’, the feeding routine was the most important thing to the babies and the most time consuming this for us. In order to follow the milk routine, you need to have a swift effective milk preparation routine. Whilst preparing the milks for the awaiting feed, I would ensure the bottles for the next feed had been sterilised and were waiting in the steriliser (they keep sterile in there for a few hours), and the bottles for the feed after that were stacked in a Tupperware ready for transfer to the steriliser. So I was thinking two feeds ahead. It is always good to have a few of the sterilising bags handy as at times you would go to prepare the bottles from the steriliser only to find a teat missing, so the bags are quite handy to have in such instances. (You can get these in packs from Boots, and just pop the bag with the bottle bits in the microwave for a minute or how ever long it states).
You also need to ensure you have cooled boiled water. Get another kettle. You can have one for your needs, and keep one separate to make up the babies’ milk. Fill it to the top, boil it once, then check after each feed if you have enough for the next. All quite straight forward, but necessary for an efficient process.
Make sure you have enough formula milk (if you are using this) in stock. We did a weekly online shop and were buying seven tubs a week of £8 formula milk (this was 7 years ago, it is £10 a tub now). ‘First’ formula milk does not qualify for discounts and loyalty points as someone somewhere is concerned that this would detract from the promotion of breast feeding as the best way to feed a baby. I found this particularly annoying and somewhat insulting. The choice of whether to breast or formula feed a baby is the mother’s decision and I think the majority of mothers would not be swayed by the price of formula milk as to whether to breast or bottle feed. When buying seven tubs of formula milk a week for £8 each for the first few months, a bit of a discount or some loyalty points would have softened the blow. I often question why baby food is allowed to be on offer and attract loyalty points when it is clear that home-made food is better.
When adding the powder, I found it easier to count aloud. You can be adding up to eight scoops of formula, into three bottles. You need to focus. There is nothing more irritating than worrying if you have added too much or too little to a bottle and having to start again, or worry about the decision you took of not starting again – has that baby had an extra scoop, or not enough.
Each bottle can be heated to the required body temperature in the microwave, and tested to check it is not too hot on your wrist. The boys occasionally would have bottles that weren’t as warm as they could be. This is good. You do not want a baby who is fussy about having their milk at a particular temperature. I recall instances when out with friends and babies when I just had a singleton, and some babies would not be happy if their milk was not the right temperature. This really isn’t something you can let a baby get away with when you have more than one to think about. Milk should not be reheated, and we generally had a rule that it was discarded after an hour.
We had the added complications of vitamin supplements for the boys for the first few weeks given that they were premature. The SCBU advised that they should be having these for ten weeks but after consultation with my GP, the boys stopped these at six weeks. These just added another process by having to add different amounts of three different vitamins with a sterilised syringe to the bottle of each feed.
How many bottles do you need? We had 12. You need to keep on top of your bottle washing and quite often can have nine to do in the morning.
We used Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature bottles which I used for my singleton. I never had any problems with these and thought they were great. Teats come in different sizes, 1-3. Babies normally start with size 1 for a slow steady flow. These require a good strong suck. If your baby is doing well with a size 1, try a size 2. The milk comes faster but they may be able to take it, just watch for the amount of wind and posset after as a sign that they may not be ready. We were able to move our boys to size 2 then 3 quite quickly and this speeded up the milk process rapidly.
So once you have the process in place, you are good to go…..