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Parenting

Best Bottle Feeding Positions for Your Newborn

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When my first son was born, he was a champion breastfeeder. I held off on bottle feeding him for a few months, mostly at the advice of everyone from the nurses at the hospital to my lactation consultant. But what I didn’t realize was that getting your newborn to take a bottle, whether for baby formula or breast milk, is the key to your freedom, survival, and in some cases, sleep — and I wish I’d done it sooner.

Starting to bottle feed your newborn but unsure of the best bottle feeding positions? We’ve got you. We’ll walk through the different techniques, the correct bottle feeding positions, plus those you should avoid.

What are the best bottle feeding positions for my baby? 

There are several newborn bottle feeding positions including paced bottle feeding— though what you ultimately choose will depend on any health issues your baby might have, their age, and preferences. And remember, there’s no one best position for bottle feeding, it’s whatever is the most successful for you and your baby.

  • Cradle position: Hold your baby in the crook of your arm, with the same arm situated underneath their body. Hold the bottle with your opposite hand, being sure to prop them up as you feed them. This is one of the best positions to bottle feed a newborn.
  • Opposite you: Sitting on your bed or couch, sit baby up against your raised knees as you bottle feed them. A bonus of this bottle feeding position? You can make eye contact with your baby, allowing for bonding. 
  • Sitting upright: Let the baby sit on your lap, then lean against your chest as you bottle feed them. This position is great for older babies or those with reflux. 
  • On a Boppy: Who doesn’t love the Bobby nursing pillow for all things baby? It’s also an ideal place for bottle feeding newborn positions. Lay your baby on the Boppy bottle feeding pillow, making sure their head is propped up as you bottle feed them. But be sure to hold the bottle as you’re feeding them, though. It’s never safe to prop a bottle while feeding your baby. 
  • Side-lying feeding position: The side-lying bottle feeding position is another ideal position for babies who have gas or reflux. It also mimics the position a baby would take during breastfeeding. Lie the baby on their side on a pillow or cushion on your lap, holding the bottle with one hand and using the other hand to brace their head or back. This is another great bottle feeding newborn position.

What are the best bottle feeding positions for babies with reflux or gas? 

Gassy babies or those with colic should be fed in the upright position, as this helps cut down on gas and post-pain feeding (see sitting upright and side-lying above). Upright feeding can also help reduce reflux symptoms in babies. 

Additionally, you may also want to prop your reflux or gassy baby up for a period of ten or 15 minutes post-bottle feed to avoid spitting up. 

Are there any wrong bottle feeding positions for my baby? 

There are a few newborn wrong bottle feeding positions. Never lay your baby flat to bottle feed, as this can allow formula to get into the baby’s ear and cause an infection. Additionally, experts warn never to prop baby’s bottle up, which can cause formula to pool in their mouth, which can cause tooth decay. 

You also should never put a baby to bed with a bottle for the same reason. Instead, bottle feed them as part of their bedtime routine, then clean their gums or teeth before they go to bed for the night.  

Should I burp my baby after bottle feeding?

Bottle fed babies usually need to be burped after bottle feeding— and some may even need to be burped after each 2-3 ounces of formula. That’s because bottle fed babies are more likely to swallow air while eating than breastfed babies.

To burp your baby, try one of these three positions: 

  • Over the shoulder: hold the baby over one shoulder, making sure the airway is clear, and pay gently on his or her back to burp. 
  • Upright: Hold baby sitting upright in your lap, with one hand gently cupping their cheeks under chin and the other gently patting their back. 
  • Lying down: Lay baby stomach down over your lap and gently pat their back.

Choosing the best bottle feeding positions

When I was a new mom, bottle feeding was billed to me as an “easier” way to feed my baby — and this couldn’t have been further from the truth. If you have a fussy baby, one that struggles with reflux, or one that simply prefers breastfeeding to taking a bottle like mine, learning how to bottle feed your baby can be super stressful. 

But with these bottle feeding positions and tips, from the best positions and ones to avoid, feeding your new babe just got a little easier — and maybe will even earn you a break outside the house. Trip to Target, anyone? 

The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant's pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.
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The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant’s pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.

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Author Rachel Morgan Cautero

Rachel Morgan Cautero is a full-time freelance writer. When she’s not busy wrangling her two boys and one very stubborn French bulldog, she’s writing on all things parenting and personal finance. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Forbes, The Everymom, Parents, Nerdwallet, The Balance, Yahoo Finance, SmartAsset, HerMoney, and DailyWorth.