Feeding with infant formula

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.

FeedGood 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.

Make sure you have sterilising equipment ready. Ask your midwife or family nurse to help you decide which sterilising equipment to choose.

Responsive feeding

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.

Overfeeding can:

  • upset their tummy and makes them vomit – this can look like colic or reflux
  • make them put on too much weight

Your periods

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.

If you feel unwell and worried, contact your doctor immediately.