Infant formula is the safe alternative to breast milk for the first 12 months. Formula feeding has the advantage that the non-birth parent is able to be more physically involved.
Things to remember when formula feeding
- Make up the feed correctly. Refer to instructions on the tin or go to the manufacturer’s website for more detailed information. Do not dilute or add extra powder.
- Bottles and teats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There is no evidence that a particular shaped bottle or teat prevents wind or colic. Teats will flow at different rates and it will come down to personal preference. Unusual shaped bottles can be difficult to clean, so keep this in mind when you are choosing one.
- Feed your baby in the same position as a breastfed baby – that is, cradle in your arms and alternate sides at each feed. This is important for the development of their eyesight.
- Look at and talk to your baby while feeding. Having eye contact and smiling has a calming effect on your baby and will trigger positive chemicals in the brain and feel-good hormones. Babies may pause during the feed to ‘babble’ to you.
- When feeding your new baby, remember to regularly burp them and to feed them slowly. The feed may take 20-40 minutes when babies are young and less time as they become more efficient at sucking.
- Try to give your baby enough milk at each feed to fill them up – rather than separate amounts of 20-30ml each time they cry. Small constant feeds mean the baby won’t experience hunger which may interfere with developing sleeping and feeding patterns. The amount they will take will increase as they get bigger.
Out and about
The best way to transport infant formula is to take the cooled, boiled water and the infant formula in separate containers and mix them when needed.
If you are feeding your baby away from home, the prepared infant formula should be icy cold when leaving home and stored in an insulated baby bottle pack to keep it cold. It is fine to give your baby cold infant formula.
To warm a feed you will need some warm water in which to place the bottle and always ensure that it is out of your baby’s reach. Do not take longer than 10 minutes to warm the bottle because bacteria multiply rapidly in warm infant formula and there is the potential to cause diarrhoea.
Throw out infant formula stored in the refrigerator after 24 hours.
Want to know more?
Raising Children Network – Newborn Nutrition: bottle feeding
King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women – Formula feeding
Frequently asked questions
If my baby has only had a few sucks from the bottle, can I keep it for later?
No, the contents of the bottle need to be used within an hour of being heated up. The bottle has been contaminated with the normal bugs in your babies mouth and they will continue to multiply. You need to throw the contents of the bottle away and start with a fresh bottle with the next feed.
What is prop feeding?
Prop feeding is when the bottle and the baby are not held but propped up with pillows or other items. The milk may flow too quickly and cause the baby to splutter or choke. Babies fed in this way are also at greater risk of ear infections and leaving a bottle in their mouth will lead to tooth decay. Babies also miss out on the opportunity to connect with their carer.
How long can I keep a tin or formula?
You need to use a tin within one month of opening it, regardless of the expiry date.