Feeding Decisions

One of the most important decisions you’ll make is how to nourish your baby.

Breastfeeding is the preferred method of infant feeding and the decision to breastfeed should be made while you are pregnant. Breast milk provides the absolute best nutrition for a newborn and infant. If you decide to breastfeed, you will be given a Breastfeeding Guide with comprehensive information for you and your baby.


Human breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It helps:

  • Prevent disease
  • Provide optimum nutrition
  • Promote healthy growth and development
  • Lower the risk of allergy and dental problems

When you decide to breastfeed your baby, our certified lactation consultants and registered nurses are here to support you in your decision. We offer bedside teaching, a "Warmline" for questions and classes to give you the information you need.

For more information, call Woman's Warmline at 225-924-8239. Breastfeeding supplies are available through the Mom & Baby Boutique in the Physician Office Building or call 225-231-5578.

Register online for classes on Breastfeeding and Baby Care.

Bottle Feeding

If you choose not to breastfeed, most pediatricians recommend a formula based on cow's milk with iron for the first year of life. Some babies may need a formula without cow's milk, usually a soybean formula.

Formula comes in three forms:

  • Ready-to-feed – This liquid is available in cans or different size bottles that can be thrown away. It requires little time to prepare, but is the most expensive of the three types of formula. Opened cans or bottles must be kept in the refrigerator. Formula removed from refrigeration should be used within one hour or discarded.
  • Concentrated – Concentrated liquid formula is often the most cost-effective choice, if bought in large quantities. Be sure to follow the directions for mixing the concentrate with water.
  • Powder – Powdered formula is convenient for travel or home use.

Never add more water to make the formula last longer or add less water to make it stronger. This could be very dangerous to your baby's health.

Discuss formula preparation and sterilization with your doctor.

Using Tap Water

Tap water is usually safe to use in mixing formula. Talk with your doctor about sterilization since water quality varies in different areas. If your water comes from a well, it may need to be tested by the local office of the Louisiana Department of Public Health for bacteria and contaminants.

To sterilize water, boil it for five minutes and allow it to cool before mixing with formula. Distilled or bottled water does not need to be sterilized.

Sterilizing Bottles and Bottle Nipples

Wash your hands before preparing bottles.

Wash bottles and nipples in hot, soapy water, rinse well in hot water and allow to air dry. Be sure to clean any dried formula out of the nipple and its opening.

You can sterilize the utensils and bottles by boiling them in water for five minutes. Allow to cool before adding formula to the bottles.

How Much to Feed?

Most pediatricians believe you should feed babies when they act hungry. Your baby may demonstrate hunger by crying, sucking on his fists or turning his head when you touch his cheeks.

Most babies want to feed every two to four hours, or six to 12 times a day. During the first month, if your baby sleeps longer than four hours and misses a feeding, wake him up and offer a bottle.

Your newborn will take from two to three ounces of formula per feeding. Feedings generally last about 20 minutes. As your baby grows and gains weight, he will need more formula.

Give your baby more formula if he regularly takes the whole bottle and sometimes cries for more, or if he keeps sucking strongly after the bottle is empty. To increase his formula, place 1/2 ounce more formula in the bottles. If your baby spits up, it may mean there is too much formula in the bottle so place 1/2 ounce less formula in the bottle.

Prepare formula bottles so you have enough for that feeding. Keep bottles of prepared formula refrigerated for a maximum of 24 hours or used within one hour of opening.

Warming Formula

It is your choice to warm your baby’s formula. Some babies are happy to take their formula directly from the refrigerator, while others may prefer it warmed.

If you choose to warm your baby’s formula, do not heat the bottles in a microwave. The formula may heat unevenly and burn your baby. Formula can be warmed to room temperature by placing the bottle in a pan of warm water.

The temperature of the warmed formula should be tested by shaking a few drops onto the inside of your wrist. If it is too warm for your wrist, it is probably too warm for your baby.

Vitamins & Minerals

Your pediatrician may prescribe vitamins with fluoride to ensure your baby gets proper nutrition and to protect his emerging teeth.

Formulas with iron are often recommended to make sure your baby has enough iron during the months of rapid growth.

Cow’s Milk & First Foods

Other types of milk (whole, low fat, skim, condensed, raw) do not meet the nutritional needs of young babies. They should be given only after your pediatrician says you may stop breastfeeding or using formula.

Solid foods are not needed for nutritional or physical reasons until the baby is at least four to six months old. Giving a baby solid foods too early can contribute to obesity; it may provide too much salt and could cause an early food allergy.

Burping the Baby

Video: How to Burp a Baby

During the first few weeks you will need to burp your baby frequently. Your baby should be burped during and at least once after a feeding.

Traditional over-the-shoulder burping works well, or you may want to try sitting the baby in your lap and lean him slightly forward, supporting his jawbone and upper chest with your hand. Gently rubbing or patting baby's back may help move air bubbles up.

For more Pregnancy and Baby videos, visit Woman’s YouTube Channel. »

Bottle Feeding Positions

Bottle feeding, whether with pumped breast milk or formula, is a great way for other family members to bond with baby.

How to hold your baby for a bottle feeding:

  • Cradled – Place your baby's head in the crook of your arm. Put your other arm around or underneath him. Lift the arm with baby's head slightly so he's in a semi-upright position.
  • On lap – Place your baby on top of your lap, with his head resting on your thighs and his feet on your stomach. This is a good feeding position for bonding with your baby and making lots of eye contact.

Make sure formula fills the nipple during the entire feeding or your baby will swallow air. Swallowing air may lead to spitting up, colic and upset stomach.

Do not lay an infant flat while feeding him a bottle. Never prop up the bottle or leave your baby alone to feed.


Babies have a strong sucking reflex. Many want to suck even though they are not hungry. Pacifiers fill this need and may calm your baby if he is fussy.

Pacifiers should never be tied around your baby’s neck. The cord or ribbon used to hold the pacifier could get caught on something and tighten around his neck, possibly choking him. Use only a commercial pacifier, never a homemade one. Never make a pacifier from a nipple and plastic collar or ring. Some babies can separate the nipple from the collar and choke on it.

Pacifiers should fit your baby’s mouth comfortably. A pacifier that is too long might gag your baby. Using a pacifier is not harmful and babies eventually outgrow the need for them.

The use of a pacifier in the breastfed infant is discouraged during the first three weeks, due to possible nipple confusion while breastfeeding is being established. A pacifier used for a short period of time to calm a fussy breastfed baby is used as a last resort.

Learn about other ways to comfort your baby.