How to Bottle Feed
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Shel Banks

Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant based in the northwest of England, working within the NHS in research, training and project management, in private practice assisting mothers and babies with feeding issues, and the tertiary sector with various national organisations.
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Formula feeding

What is infant formula?

Most infant formula is made from cows’ milk that has been treated to make it suitable for babies. Goats’ milk based infant formula is also approved for use for some babies. You should not feed your baby other formulas unless your midwife, health visitor or GP recommends you to.
In Short
Infant formula is usually made from cow’s milk and is processed to make it suitable for babies.

If you think a particular brand of infant formula disagrees with your baby, ask your GP, midwife or health visitor for advice.

Ready-to-feed liquid infant formula, sold in cartons, is sterile.

Powdered infant formula, is not sterile.

First infant formula

This is often described as suitable for newborns and should always be the first formula you give to your baby. However, your baby can stay on this formula when you start to introduce solid foods at around six months and continue on it throughout the first year. You do not need to move on to other formula milk marketed by formula companies such as ‘follow-on milk.’ When your baby is one year old, they can start to drink whole cows’ milk.

Note
Unless your doctor or health visitor gives you different advice, first infant formula is the only type of formula your baby needs until they are one year old. When your baby is one year old, they can start to drink whole cows’ milk.
‘Hungry baby milks’ or ‘second milks’

These formula contain more more casein than first formula milk. Casein is a protein thought to make your baby feel more full. However, there is no evidence that babies settle better or sleep longer when fed this formula. Unless your doctor or health visitor gives you different advice, there is no need to switch to these milks. Babies can drink first infant formula until they are one year old.

Follow on formula, ‘Toddler’ and ‘Growing Up’ milk

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. Indeed, there is no need to move your baby on to these milks after six months. Your baby can have first infant formula up until the time when ordinary cows’ milk can be introduced at 12 months.

Note
These labels on these milks can look very similar to those on first infant formula, so read them carefully to avoid making a mistake. Like powdered infant formula, follow-on formula is not sterile.
Other formulas

Some follow-on formula has cereal added to it, and is described as a ‘night time feed for babies’. This formula is not necessary and there is no evidence that babies settle better or sleep longer when fed formula containing cereal. It should never be given to babies under six months.

If you think your baby might be allergic to cows’-milk-based formula, talk to your GP. They can prescribe special formula feeds for babies with cows’ milk allergy. Some formulas in the shops are labelled as being ‘hypoallergenic’ but they are not suitable for babies diagnosed with a cows’ milk allergy.

You should not give your baby soya-based infant formula unless your GP or a dietician has advised you to.

Infant formula can also be made from goats’ milk. However, goats’-milk-based formulas should not be given to infants with a cows’ milk protein allergy, unless directed by a healthcare professional.
Remember, if you have any questions about the infant formula you are giving your baby, you can ask your midwife, health visitor or GP for information and help.

Note
Cows’ milk should not be given as a main drink to infants under one year, but it’s okay to use small amounts of pasteurised whole cows’ milk when cooking and preparing foods for your baby from six months onwards.

Other full-fat dairy products such as yoghurt or fromage frais can be given after six months, once your baby is used to eating solid foods.
Types of milk to avoid

Not all milk is suitable for feeding babies. Here are some of the types of milk you should never give to a baby under one year:

  • Goats’ milk
  • Sheeps’ milk
  • Soya milk (unless your midwife, health visitor or GP advises otherwise)
  • Other types of drinks known as ‘milks’ such as rice, oat or almond drinks
  • Dried milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Condensed milk.
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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.