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Bottle-Feeding & Back-to-Work Tips

How to Introduce the Bottle

Returning to work and being away from baby are just a few of the reasons parents decide to offer their babies a bottle. The transition to bottle-feeding can be difficult, but a little planning makes it easier on both you and your baby. 

You might find that having someone else feed your baby every once in a while gives you time to work, to do other necessary things, or to take time for yourself and your family. If you will be giving a bottle on a regular basis, it is typically best to introduce the first bottle-feeding at around 4 to 6 weeks of age. 

Feeding expressed milk 

If you plan to feed expressed breast milk (pumped breast milk), you will need to decide when to start pumping and storing mom's milk. Introduce your baby to a bottle a few weeks before you need to, but wait until your baby is at least 3 weeks old to prevent nipple confusion or bottle rejection. 

Creating a supply of extra milk 

To feed expressed breast milk, mom should start pumping breast milk at home 3 to 4 weeks before  needing to be at work or away. For a return to work, have enough stored for the first day back. For an extended absence, like a business trip, start building up a surplus of milk to cover the length of the absence. Most full-term breastfed babies require about 24 to 30 fluid ounces (≈700–885 mL) of milk for a 24-hour period. Some moms create a surplus of frozen milk in case of emergencies. Label your milk and store it in a freezer for future use. 

Bottle rejection 

You might notice some initial resistance. Most babies need time to adjust to an artificial nipple. In addition, you might also consider having another person give your baby a bottle of expressed breast milk, so your infant is more flexible and can get nourishment from other people, not just you.

Communicating with your caregiver 

Make sure your caregiver knows your baby’s feeding schedule. Give written instructions on how to store and use your expressed breast milk. Try to have your caregiver schedule the daytime feedings so that your baby will be hungry and ready to breastfeed when you arrive home from work. If your baby is hungry before then, the caregiver can give a snack-sized portion of stored milk. 

Supplementing with infant formula 

If you need to add infant formula to supplement your breast milk, or need to switch to infant formula from breast milk, it is best to start introducing infant formula in small quantities mixed with breast milk for 1 to 2 weeks. This allows mom's breasts to reduce the amount of milk that is made for less frequent feedings and also helps baby adjust to using a bottle that has more infant formula and less breast milk. In this way, your baby’s taste buds and stomach gradually get used to formula. 

The next week, introduce two feedings of infant formula each day. Make sure to keep the total number of feedings the same. Again, express only enough milk for relief. The law of supply and demand will work and gradually mom's breasts will adjust and make less milk. Engorgement and the need to express milk when away will decrease over time.

Pumping & Storing Breast Milk When Returning to Work

Going back to work

Before returning to work, talk with your supervisor. If you plan to pump breast milk at work, you will need a clean, private place to pump with access to electricity and a sink. You will also need to make arrangements to pump throughout the work day—two to three breaks to pump your milk during each 8-hour work period is usually enough. Be as flexible as you can in the early transition back to work. Allow yourself the time to find out what works best for you and your job.

Choose the right pump

For most mothers who work more than 4 hours a day, an electric, double-sided pump (automatic) is the best choice. Double sided means you can pump both of your breasts at the same time, which lets you pump your milk in about 10 to 15 minutes. A hand pump generally is not recommended for use at work. It can take much longer to fully empty both breasts.

Practice pumping

To “let down” your milk when you pump, as you do when you nurse your baby, you need to relax. Start by practicing with your pump at home, before you return to work. Keep practicing until pumping becomes comfortable and easy. Store the milk from your practice sessions in the freezer for a backup supply when you return to work. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions in caring for your pump and supplies.

Pump regularly

Pump during your work hours and also consider pumping at home. Pumping earlier in the day tends to produce more milk than later in the day. If you have a portable pump, or more than one pump, consider pumping once in the early morning before your baby wakes up. Then nurse your baby. Or nurse your baby on one side and pump on the other. If you work a shift for 8 or more hours and can’t pump at home, talk to your manager about how to schedule three (or more for longer shifts) pumping breaks at regular times throughout your shift.

Where to pump at work

Pump in a private, sanitary place where you can relax. Wash your hands before pumping. Stay hydrated; drink water before, during, and after pumping. You may want to consider bringing a picture of your baby to help you relax and your milk let down. You may also wish to listen to soothing music or bring something to read.

Clothing and equipment

Wear clothes that are comfortable and make it easy to pump. Pack a bag that contains everything you will need, including your pump and attachments, cleaning supplies, containers, masking tape and marker to label milk containers (with name, date, and time), breast pads, and ice pack and cooler. If your employer provides a pump, make sure to get the proper accessory kit that works with the pump you will use. You may want to consider keeping spare clothes to change into in case of any mishaps while pumping. Special bras for nursing are also helpful to have.

Keys to saving and storing milk

  • FRESH MILK—You can keep freshly expressed breast milk safely at room temperature for up to 6 hours at up to 77ºF. To preserve all the protective benefits of fresh milk, it is best to keep it in a refrigerator or cooler as soon as it is pumped.
  • FROZEN MILK—If you do not plan to use pumped breast milk within 5 days, freeze it. Thawed milk will keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Never refreeze milk that was previously stored in a freezer unit or deep freezer. You can keep milk for 3 to 4 months in a refrigerator freezer or up to 6 months in a deep freezer. Keep breast milk in the back of the freezer where the temperature is less likely to vary.
  • THAWED MILK—Thaw frozen breast milk by running warm water over the container. Do not thaw breast milk at room temperature. Do not bring it to a boil, and never use a microwave to heat breast milk. Thawed milk can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Do not refreeze once thawed.
  • CONTAINERS —You can store breast milk in:
    • Glass or plastic containers—freezer safe if necessary.
    • Plastic freezer bags designed to store breast milk—be sure they are clean and only used once.
    • Disposable bottle liners are not recommended for storing milk. Do not fill container completely, if freezing, as liquids expand during freezing.

NOTE: Label each container with your baby’s name and the date the breast milk was pumped and the date to discard.

Safe Infant Formula Preparation & Use

Follow these safety tips if you are feeding a baby infant formula.


It is very important to wash your hands thoroughly, and often, anytime you are handling baby’s bottle or utensils for the bottle or formula.


Always check to make sure the formula is not too hot. Shake a few drops out onto the inside of your wrist. If it feels too hot to you, it’s too hot for the baby and could cause a burn. It is not necessary to heat breast milk or formula—many doctors recommend room temperature.


Never use a microwave to prepare or warm formula. Instead, hold the bottle under warm running water from the sink or place the bottle in a bowl of warm water.


Follow all of the instructions carefully and use the exact measurements listed on the label.


Never allow your baby to bottle-feed without help. Don’t prop the bottle because this may cause the baby to choke. Feeding baby yourself also gives your baby much-needed physical contact and closeness.


Do not reuse any formula left in the bottle that baby did not finish. Throw away any leftover formula. Don’t put it back in the refrigerator, as germs from baby’s mouth will mix with the leftover formula and could cause stomach aches or diarrhea.


Prepared infant formula can spoil if it is left out at room temperature.

  • Use prepared infant formula within 2 hours of preparation and within one hour from when feeding begins.
  • If you do not start to use the prepared infant formula within 2 hours, immediately store the bottle in the fridge and use it within 24 hours.

Store unopened infant formula containers in a cool, dry, indoor place - not in vehicles, garages, or outdoors.

Once a container of powdered infant formula is opened, store in a cool, dry place with the lid tightly closed. Do not store it in the refrigerator.

Most powdered infant formulas need to be used within 1 month of opening the container (check the label). When you first open the container, write the date on the lid to help you remember.

Never use formula after the "Use By" date on the container.1


Wait until after baby’s first birthday to feed them cow’s milk. Babies need the nutrients in breast milk or infant formula to grow and develop, which are not found in cow’s milk.


Do not give your baby honey during the first year. Honey is very dangerous for babies and may cause them to become very sick.

Your doctor’s advice

Call your doctor if you have questions about preparing, storing, or feeding your baby infant formula; changing to a different formula; or adding other foods to your baby’s diet.

Your baby’s bottle

Do not feed your baby any of the following from a bottle:

  • Juice or soda
  • Cereal or other food mixed with water, milk, or infant formula
  • Cow’s milk
  • Tea



Reference: 1. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/formula-feeding/infant-formula-preparation-and-storage.html



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