My son was born 10 weeks premature and was a poorly baby. Feeding took a long time to get established. The first 4 weeks he was on TPN (Total Parent Nutrition) as he couldn’t tolerate milk. It felt like a long way off before we would be considering breastfeeding or looking into the best bottles for preemies. It amazes me that a liquid that looked like water going into his veins was able to keep him alive for so long!

My little boy in his incubator
My little boy in his incubator

Expressing

During that 4 weeks I was expressing every three to four hours. It was exhausting and if I am honest quite boring. Not to mention the annoying noise and being tied to the kitchen table so I was near a plug socket. After 4 long weeks the doctors and nurses were able to get my son to tolerate milk and started feeding him via a tube (nasogastric tube). He started on 1ml every hour, to put that into perspective a teaspoon is about 5ml. They very slowly built up the amount from there.

After about 4 weeks my little boy was on a decent amount and on the daily doctors rounds it was decided to introduce one bottle a day. Feeding for babies is very tiring as they have to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing all at the same time. So starting on a small and building him up was the way to go. I was so excited, this was an amazing milestone! I was going to be able to feed my baby while holding him in my arms!

My little boy being burped after his bottle
My little boy being burped after his bottle

There is no section of the supermarket that has a “bottles for preemies” section. We went home though with our chosen bottles and the next day proudly brought in a well-known brand. The nurses straight away told us that this brand had a bad reputation on the unit for preemie babies but we could try. They were right and they provided us with a Nuk teat that fitted onto the bottles used for expressing milk. The nurses advised us that they have found that the cheaper the bottle the better. The cheap bottles were also a good fit for the hospital Nuk teats.

Based on the nurses advice…

On the way home we went into the local supermarket and bought their cheap bottles. The next morning I was at the hospital ready for the morning feed. I arrived early so that the bottles could be sanitised and we sceptically gave them a go. They were a huge success with 50ml being demolished in minutes! A certain little someone was finding a really good appetite. We have been using these bottles ever since never bothering with expensive makes. Neil amazed doctors by quickly going from one bottle per day to all of his feeds being by bottle and he has never looked back! See pic below of Neil happy and content after his bottle.

My little preemie happy and content after his bottle
My little preemie happy and content after his bottle

There is such a huge choice out there with many amazing brands. That amount of choice is so good to have but can be overwhelming for new parents. My advice would be to listen to the hospital staff. They have been doing this a while with a heck of a lot of babies! If you don’t get chance to speak with them then buy cheap. A pack of three cost me less than £3, you can always buy a different one later.

I did look at recommended bottles for preemies but found there wasn’t much out there! I really like this blog though from the Baby Detective – Sarah Norris, click here to read it. She clearly explains the different types of bottles and teats. This article isn’t aimed specifically at premature babies but there is reference to them possibly having a weaker sucking action therefore this may influence your decision when looking at some bottles.