We are here to support you
It is up to you how you feed your baby.
Your health visitor is there to listen to you and help you make a choice that is right for you. We will support you with your baby’s feeding whatever decision you make.
First stage formula milk
A first stage formula milk of any brand will meet all of your baby’s nutritional needs. A first stage formula milk is easier for your baby to digest.
It is advisable that your baby stays on the first stage milk until they are one year old.
Infant formula milks contain cows’ milk proteins which have been treated to make them safe for your baby. There are many different brands and types of formula milk available for you to buy.
Healthy Start vouchers
You may be able to qualify for Healthy Start vouchers which will also entitle you to free vitamin drops for your baby. Healthy Start is a national means tested scheme to help families give their children the very best start in life.
If you are pregnant or you have a child under the age of 4 years you could be entitled to Healthy Start vouchers which will help you buy some basic family foods. You will receive weekly vouchers to the value of £3.10 to spend on milk, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk. Your vitamin voucher will be attached to your Healthy Start voucher.
The application process is straightforward but your application will need to be signed by your midwife or Health Visitor.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that offering your baby hungrier baby milks, second milks, toddler or growing up milks offer your baby any additional nutritional benefits.
Anti-reflux, comfort, lactose free, hypoallergenic and soya formula milks should only be used under medical advice from your GP and Health Visitor.
If you think that your baby may be allergic to their formula milk it is important to speak to your GP or Health Visitor.
It is important that goat’s milk is not given to babies with cow’s milk allergies.
Timing saving or budget friendly
Ready-made formula milk is sterile which makes it easier because it does not need any preparation. However, it usually costs more.
Powdered formula milk is not sterile and requires careful preparation before it is given to your baby.
Good hygiene is crucial
You are recommended to make up your baby’s formula feed when your baby needs it.
Your baby’s immune system is less developed than an adult’s one, so there is a chance that they can get ill if you do not follow the instructions. Good hygiene is crucial when it comes to making up your baby’s feeds.
Step-by-step preparing formula
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to safely make up your baby’s formula feed. Please see the section below for other important things about making up a formula feed safely.
Step 1. Empty your kettle and refill with at least 1 litre of fresh tap water. Do not use bottled water.
Bottled water is not sterile and contains too much sodium which can be harmful to your baby. However, if you do not have access to tap water then you will have to use bottled water to make up your baby’s infant formula milk feeds. To do this safely you must read the label to make sure that:
- The sodium level (written as Na) is less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre.
- The sulphate level (written as SO or SO4) is less than 250mg per litre.
- Remember that bottled water is not sterile so would still need to be boiled before using it to make up your baby’s formula feed.
Step 2. Boil the kettle and leave to cool for up to 30 minutes making sure that the temperature of the water is at least 70 degrees Celsius.
Step 3. Clean the preparation area and wash your hands thoroughly.
Step 4. Place your baby’s sterilised bottle/teat on the clean preparation area. If you have used cold water sterilisation then shake the excess sterilisation solution and rinse with cool boiled water from the kettle.
Step 5. Pour boiled water into your baby’s bottle making sure that the water level is correct for the feed that you are going to make.
Step 6. Loosely fill the scoop that came with your tin of formula milk and level off with the edge of a clean knife. Always ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 7. Carefully handle the edge of the teat and put on the bottle with retaining ring and bottle cap and shake until all the formula powder has dissolved.
Step 8. Cool the bottle for your baby by holding the bottle under cold running water.
Step 9. Test the temperature of the feed on the inside of your wrist so that it is at the correct temperature to give your baby. It should feel warm.
Step 10. Pour away of any formula milk left in the bottle that has not been used within 2 hours.
Preparation machines are not recommended because of a lack of evidence surrounding their safety.
- You always follow the formula milk manufacturers guidance as they can be different for different formula milk brands.
- You never add extra formula milk powder to your baby’s feed. Too much formula milk powder can cause your baby to become dehydrated or constipated.
- Not enough formula milk will mean that your baby is not getting enough nourishment.
- You never add extra sugar, rusks, cereals or anything else to your baby’s feed.
- You never. use a microwave to warm your baby’s feed as this can cause burns to your baby’s because the feed is not warmed evenly.
- You never cut your baby’s feeding teat or try to make it bigger as this can cause choking.
- You never leave your baby to feed alone unsupervised.
You could use ready-made formula milk which is sterile so all you would need to take with you is a sterilised feeding bottle.
Fill a vacuum flask full with boiling water and then measure out the desired amount of formula milk powder in a small dry container. Take a sterile feeding bottle with you and then make the feed as needed by your baby.
Bonding with your baby
The time spent feeding your baby is very special. It is during this time that you will start to get to know your baby and start to build a close and loving relationship.
Keeping your baby close to you will help your baby to feel safe and secure as they adjust to life outside of your womb and it helps you recognise your baby’s feeding cues. Your baby should be in the same rooms as you for the first 6 months of their life. This will help you with responsive feeding and has also been proven to reduce the risk Sudden Infant Death. It is impossible to spoil your baby with love and affection.
We encourage you to limit the number of people who feed your baby. It is important for you to get to know your baby’s feeding cues, so you can respond to their feeding needs.
Your baby will let you know when they are hungry by their behaviour and they will give you clues which may include:
- Becoming restless and shuffling around in their moses basket or crib.
- They will suck their fist or fingers.
- You may hear them smacking their lips or making murmuring sounds.
- They will start to root by turning their heads and opening their mouths.
Your health visitor will support you to recognise these clues before your baby starts to cry. Visit baby cues for more information.
Responding to the early feeding clues contributes to a more pleasurable feeding experience for you and your baby because it can sometimes be difficult to feed a crying baby. When you start to see your baby displaying some of these behaviours you can offer them a feed.
We recommend you formula feed by
- Firstly make sure that you are comfortable and allow plenty of time to feed your baby
- Hold your baby close to you in a semi-upright position
- Look and talk to your baby during feeding
- Invite your baby to take the teat in their mouth by brushing it against their lips
- Holding your baby’s bottle horizontally will allow you baby to pace their feed and pause between swallowing
- Avoid forcing your baby to finish their feed. Sometimes they may only want part of their feed which is normal
- When your baby has finished their feed hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to help them bring up any wind
The amount of formula milk that your baby will need will vary because every baby is different.
Newborn babies will only take very small amounts of formula milk because their stomachs are very small and unable to tolerate a large amount of milk. As a general guide after your baby’s first week they will be taking 150-200ml per Kg of your baby’s weight per day until they are around the age of 6 months.
When you start to wean your baby they will take less formula milk as they start to eat more solid foods, this is normal.
Signs they are getting enough milk
As long as your baby is producing 6-8 wet nappies per day and at least 2 dirty nappies per day and they are putting on weight consistently then you can be assured that your baby is getting enough formula milk.
If you are worried about any aspect of your baby’s feeding please talk to your health visitor.