If you decide not to breastfeed, you can choose to feed your baby using infant formula instead.
In the early days it’s better for your baby to have as few people feed them as possible.
Feeding with infant formula
Infant formula is usually powdered cow’s milk which has been adapted and treated so that it’s more suitable for babies.
You mix it yourself with water, or you can also buy it ready to feed. You'll need to buy sterilising equipment for the bottles and teats.
Which infant formula to use
First stage infant formula is all your baby needs. There's no advantage at any stage to using a second-stage or follow-on infant formula.
You shouldn't use:
- goat’s infant formula if your baby has a cow’s milk protein allergy
- soya infant formula unless advised to do so by your baby’s dietitian or paediatrician
A small number of babies may need other types of formula or feeds. These are usually prescribed by a doctor or dietitian.
Parent Club has more about formula feeding
Other types of milk
Infants under a year shouldn't have:
- fresh milk such as cow, goat or buffalo milk
- any plant or nut milk such as almond, rice or soya milk as a drink
These don't contain enough nutrients and in some cases can cause bleeding in the gut and anaemia in young children.
Preparing to bottle feed
Bottle feeding takes time, but it’s much easier once you get used to:
- keeping your baby close for feeds
- offering the teat gently
- letting your baby feed at their pace
Having lots of skin-to-skin contact when your baby's born can help.
Soon you’ll pick up what your baby wants – food, winding or a cuddle. If you’re finding it hard, talk to your midwife, health visitor or family nurse.
Responsive feeding means feeding your baby whenever they give you feeding cues.
In the early days your baby has a tiny tummy, so they’ll want very small frequent feeds. Let your baby feed at their own pace and stop when they’re full.
- upset their tummy and makes them vomit – this can look like colic or reflux
- make them put on too much weight
If you choose to bottle feed, your periods may come back within 4 to 8 weeks after your baby's born.
Your first period may be heavier than usual as your womb's still quite big after the birth. This is normal.