Practical information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and bottle-feeding

5 mins
Overview

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, evidence shows that the coronavirus is transmitted through human to human direct contact.1

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and other UK maternity health bodies have published guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) in pregnancy, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding2. This article focuses on advice to give parents who are bottle-feeding.

For coronavirus and breastfeeding advice find more information in our article on managing coronavirus in pregnancy and advice on breastfeeding.

Mother bottle feeding baby
Advice on coronavirus and bottle-feeding

Bottle-feeding includes formula feeding, feeding expressed breast milk or combination feeding. Combination feeding is when breastfeeding is supplemented with bottle-feeding– using formula or expressed breast milk. It enables parental flexibility through the night, or when a mum returns to work3.

Parents’ bottle-feeding hygiene should including making sure they wash their hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) before touching their baby4 and before they handle the formula or bottle. They should carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions on making up formula feeds and current guidance on washing and sterilising of feeding equipment.4

Sterilising baby bottles and equipments

If a parent is formula feeding or feeding expressed breastmilk to their baby, they should be washing and sterilising baby bottles and all their feeding equipment carefully before each use and strictly adhering to manufacturer’s instructions on washing and sterilisation.4 You can use our unbranded helpsheet on steam sterilising with parents.

Making up formula feeds

Parents who are formula feeding should carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions4 on using the right amount of formula and water and preparing each feed in individual bottles when required. We have created helpsheet on preparing and giving a bottle which will provide more information for parents on how to correctly prepare a feed.

Expressing breast milk

If a parent is expressing breast milk to bottle-feed their baby, they should be advised to always wash their hands thoroughly before touching the breast, breast pump and bottles. Also clean the breast pump and it’s parts before and after a pumping session according to the manufacturer’s instructions.4 Find our helpsheet on expressing breast milk by hand here.

Combination feeding

Parents should maintain all the above advice on hand washing, equipment washing and sterilising of baby bottles and feeding equipment to safely feed their baby. You will find information on combination feeding here.

The number of people who feed a baby should be limited5 to reduce the chances of infection but if a parent is feeling too unwell to feed their baby, if possible, they should ask someone else to help with the feeding duties making sure they still follow the same hygiene rules.

If they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or suspect that they may have it, WHO recommends that they wear a mask, if available, when handling and feeding their baby.6

For further practical support and advice, you can contact our SMA Nutrition Careline team.

References Show all Hide all
  1. Royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy. Available at https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/2020-04-17-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-in-pregnancy.pdf. Accessed May 2020.

  2. Royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists, Coronavirus Infection in Pregnancy, information for preganant women and their families. Available at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/. Accessed May 2020.

  3. How to combine breast and bottle feeding. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/combining-breast-and-bottle/. Accessed May 2020

  4. Start 4 life, Coronavirus (Covid-19): Advice for parents. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/coronavirus-covid19-advice-for-parents/. Accessed May 2020.

  5. UNICEF UK Baby friendly initiative, statement on infant feeding during the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak. Available at https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/04/Unicef-UK-Baby-Friendly-Initiative-statement-on-infant-feeding-during-the-Covid-19-outbreak.pdf. Accessed May 2020.

  6. WHO, connecting the world to combat coronavirus, healthy at home. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/connecting-the-world-to-combat-coronavirus/healthyathome/healthyathome---healthy-parenting?gclid=CjwKCAjw4871BRAjEiwAbxXi25AquzBkCsQV6jxRIYTxHfTDQ7r2Pyc7AyNdoVMS5Ny651C-gQJzLRoC7pwQAvD_BwE. Accessed May2020

Important Notice:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that pregnant women and new mothers be informed on the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding – in particular the fact that it provides the best nutrition and protection from illness for babies. Mothers should be given guidance on the preparation for, and maintenance of, lactation, with special emphasis on the importance of a well-balanced diet both during pregnancy and after delivery. Unnecessary introduction of partial bottle-feeding or other foods and drinks should be discouraged since it will have a negative effect on breastfeeding. Similarly, mothers should be warned of the difficulty of reversing a decision not to breastfeed. Before advising a mother to use an infant formula, she should be advised of the social and financial implications of her decision: for example, if a baby is exclusively bottle-fed, more than one can (400 g) per week will be needed, so the family circumstances and costs should be kept in mind. Mothers should be reminded that breast milk is not only the best, but also the most economical food for babies. If a decision to use an infant formula is taken, it is important to give instructions on correct preparation methods, emphasising that unboiled water, unsterilised bottles or incorrect dilution can all lead to illness.

Mother bottle feeding baby
5 mins

Practical information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and bottle-feeding

Overview

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, evidence shows that the coronavirus is transmitted through human to human direct contact.1

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and other UK maternity health bodies have published guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) in pregnancy, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding2. This article focuses on advice to give parents who are bottle-feeding.

For coronavirus and breastfeeding advice find more information in our article on managing coronavirus in pregnancy and advice on breastfeeding.

Advice on coronavirus and bottle-feeding

Bottle-feeding includes formula feeding, feeding expressed breast milk or combination feeding. Combination feeding is when breastfeeding is supplemented with bottle-feeding– using formula or expressed breast milk. It enables parental flexibility through the night, or when a mum returns to work3.

Parents’ bottle-feeding hygiene should including making sure they wash their hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) before touching their baby4 and before they handle the formula or bottle. They should carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions on making up formula feeds and current guidance on washing and sterilising of feeding equipment.4

Sterilising baby bottles and equipments

If a parent is formula feeding or feeding expressed breastmilk to their baby, they should be washing and sterilising baby bottles and all their feeding equipment carefully before each use and strictly adhering to manufacturer’s instructions on washing and sterilisation.4 You can use our unbranded helpsheet on steam sterilising with parents.

Making up formula feeds

Parents who are formula feeding should carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions4 on using the right amount of formula and water and preparing each feed in individual bottles when required. We have created helpsheet on preparing and giving a bottle which will provide more information for parents on how to correctly prepare a feed.

Expressing breast milk

If a parent is expressing breast milk to bottle-feed their baby, they should be advised to always wash their hands thoroughly before touching the breast, breast pump and bottles. Also clean the breast pump and it’s parts before and after a pumping session according to the manufacturer’s instructions.4 Find our helpsheet on expressing breast milk by hand here.

Combination feeding

Parents should maintain all the above advice on hand washing, equipment washing and sterilising of baby bottles and feeding equipment to safely feed their baby. You will find information on combination feeding here.

The number of people who feed a baby should be limited5 to reduce the chances of infection but if a parent is feeling too unwell to feed their baby, if possible, they should ask someone else to help with the feeding duties making sure they still follow the same hygiene rules.

If they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or suspect that they may have it, WHO recommends that they wear a mask, if available, when handling and feeding their baby.6

For further practical support and advice, you can contact our SMA Nutrition Careline team.

References Show all Hide all
  1. Royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy. Available at https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/2020-04-17-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-in-pregnancy.pdf. Accessed May 2020.

  2. Royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists, Coronavirus Infection in Pregnancy, information for preganant women and their families. Available at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/. Accessed May 2020.

  3. How to combine breast and bottle feeding. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/combining-breast-and-bottle/. Accessed May 2020

  4. Start 4 life, Coronavirus (Covid-19): Advice for parents. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/coronavirus-covid19-advice-for-parents/. Accessed May 2020.

  5. UNICEF UK Baby friendly initiative, statement on infant feeding during the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak. Available at https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/04/Unicef-UK-Baby-Friendly-Initiative-statement-on-infant-feeding-during-the-Covid-19-outbreak.pdf. Accessed May 2020.

  6. WHO, connecting the world to combat coronavirus, healthy at home. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/connecting-the-world-to-combat-coronavirus/healthyathome/healthyathome---healthy-parenting?gclid=CjwKCAjw4871BRAjEiwAbxXi25AquzBkCsQV6jxRIYTxHfTDQ7r2Pyc7AyNdoVMS5Ny651C-gQJzLRoC7pwQAvD_BwE. Accessed May2020