Formula feeding

The choice of how you feed your baby is entirely your decision; this section is designed to equip you with the knowledge to do this correctly and safely.

You may have decided to give your breastmilk to baby from a bottle and will therefore need to be aware of the sterilisation of feeding equipment and how to store your milk; this will be covered in section "Maximising your breastmilk supply and the recommendations on storage"

If you choose to formula feed your baby, it is recommended that you use infant formula that is labelled "first milk".

Feeding your baby is a time to enjoy getting to know him/her. It is recommended that you limit the number of people who give feeds, as your baby will be used to your technique and be familiar with your voice, which can be more comforting.

You can find more information here about the different methods of sterilisation, making feeds up correctly (in accordance with the Department of Health) and some useful tips when formula feeding.


Frequently asked questions

Q. Why is it recommended that I prepare my baby's powdered infant formula as he needs it?

A. Powdered infant formula is not sterile, therefore as recommended by the Department of Health, the boiled water should not be less than 70° Centigrade when preparing the feed.  This will kill any potentially harmful bacteria in the powder.  A baby's immune system is not as strong, nor as well developed, as an adult's.  This means that babies are much more susceptible to illness and infection. Therefore, good hygiene is very important when making up a feed.

You can download a useful NHS guide on how to prepare formula feeds here

We also recommend you read this statement regarding the use of formula preparation machines.


Q. When do I move my baby onto the next stage of formula milk?

A. There is no scientific evidence that babies need to move onto "Follow on" formula milk before one year of age.

Other milks are available that are labelled as being suitable for babies aged six months and over, such as 'follow-on milk', 'toddler milk' and 'growing up milk'. They should never be fed to babies under six months old and there is no need to switch to these milks after six months.

Your baby can have first infant formula up until the time when ordinary cow's milk can be introduced (at one year old).  However, the labels on these milks can look very similar to those on first infant formula, so read them carefully to avoid making a mistake.  As with powdered infant formula, follow-on formula is not sterile.

You can download a useful NHS guide on how to prepare formula feeds here


Q. My baby doesn't seem to settle after a bottle feed, are there any tips?

A. If your baby swallows air while bottle feeding and is then put down to sleep, they may feel uncomfortable and cry.  After a feed, it's usually helpful to hold your baby upright against your shoulder or propped forward on your lap.  Gently rub their back so any trapped air can find its way out easily, but there's no need to overdo it - wind is not as big a problem as many people think.

Holding baby and keeping him upright following a feed can be comforting for him; you will not spoil him with cuddles.  This UNICEF leaflet 'Building a happy baby' provides more information.

Night feeds can be challenging, especially when you are tired and your baby is wakeful and wanting to feed frequently.  This UNICEF leaflet 'Caring for your baby at night' provides useful information. 

Back to 'feeding your baby'.