Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. If you decide not to breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding, it is possible to restart. Speak to your midwife if you want help to start breastfeeding. Giving infant formula to a breastfed baby will reduce your milk supply.

If you have chosen to formula feed your baby we will help you to do this as safely as possible.

The first feed after the birth of your baby

We will encourage you to give the first feed to your baby in skin contact with mother. All babies need as much skin contact as possible in the first days after birth Babies have very small stomachs when they are born and so the first feeds need to be small amounts; 10-20ml. Babies usually have small but frequent feeds.

Which formula should I use?

The brand of formula doesn’t matter. All formula milks in the UK are made to a standard and there is no milk that is better than any other. The cheapest milk is the same quality as the most expensive. It is important that you only give your baby first milk. This is the only formula milk your baby will need for the whole of the first year. When your baby is 12 months old you can use normal full fat cow’s milk. Your baby does not need follow on milks or toddler milks

For more information visit

Getting to know your new baby and responding to their needs

Your baby’s brain is going to develop very rapidly in the first two years of life and there are lots of things you can do to help your baby’s brain to develop well:

  • Cuddling your baby
  • Kissing your baby
  • Responding to your baby when they cry
  • Talking to your baby
  • Making eye contact with your baby.

This will all help your baby to feel safe and secure and this will help good brain development. For more information visit

Newborn babies don’t need toys they just need their parents to respond to them.

How do I make up feed and sterilise bottles & teats?

Before you leave hospital ask your midwife to show you how to hold your baby when feeding and how to be aware of your baby’s cues that they are hungry and that they have had enough. This leaflet will also give you some information about how to follow your baby’s cues.

The following leaflet will give you information about making up feeds and sterilising bottles and teats

For resources in different languages visit

Preparing a feed with other systems

Formula preparation machines

There is insufficient evidence that these machines are safe in the preparation of powdered infant formula (First Steps Nutrition Trust, 2019)

Vacuum Flasks and Travel Formula Systems

If full and sealed, vacuum flasks will keep water above 70◦c for several hours

Travel Formula Systems are less effective than vacuum flasks (First Steps Nutrition Trust, 2019)

Baby Kettles

There is a potential risk that the water in these kettles may be repeatedly boiled (e.g. set to re-boil after 3 hours) to maintain the temperature, concentrating elements in the water. Fresh water should always be used in the kettle. The water is also likely to cool below 70◦c being poured into the bottle and is therefore likely to be less than 70◦c when the powder is added. Caution suggested if you are using these to make up infant formula.

Hot taps.

Many kitchens are now fitted with hot taps where either ‘boiling’ or cold water is dispensed directly. If using a hot tap the water should be added directly into the bottle. To ensure a temperature of 70◦c, the formula powder should be added as per instructions below:

2-3oz (60-90mls)               Immediately

4-5oz (120-180mls)          After no more than 5 minutes

6-8oz ( 210 – 240ml)        After no more than 10 minutes

(First Steps Nutrition Trust 2019)

Ready-to-feed products

All equipment still needs to be sterilised

Unused formula should be kept at back of fridge, sealed, for no more than 24 hours (DoH and BFI, 2015).