Bottle feeding - infant formula - FAQs

What is Infant Formula?

Most infant formulas are made from cows' milk which has been processed to make it 'suitable' for babies. 

There are several brands of infant formula. There is no evidence that one company's milk is better for your baby than any other. 

There are also different types of milk available, for example, first milk, second milk follow on milk. You need to be careful which milk you use as it can affect your baby's health. Please talk to your midwife or health visitor about which is the most suitable milk for your baby. 

How do I make up formula milk?

You should be shown how to sterilise equipment make up and give a feed before you leave hospital. If you are not shown please ask. 

  • Make up feeds, 1 at a time, as your baby needs them. 
  • Always use boiled water of at least 70C - infant formula is not a sterile product and may contain bacteria. Using water at a temperature of 70C will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. 
  • Always put the water into the bottle first
  • Follow the manufacturers' instructions as to how much water and powder to use. Do not add extra milk powder when making up the feed as this can make your baby ill. 

Bottled water is not recommended to make up feeds as it is not sterile and may contain too much salt. 

How do I feed my baby?

  • Hold your baby fairly upright with the head supported in a comfortable position. 
  • Always hold your baby close to you when feeding, this will make him feel safe. 
  • Never feed your baby propped up on a pillow. 
  • Hold the bottle so that it is tilted just enough to make sure baby is taking in milk and not air, through the teat. Babies feed in bursts of sucking with short periods of rest. 
  • You will see bubbles in the bottle as your baby feeds. If you can't see bubbles, break the suction between baby's tongue and the teat by moving the teat slightly in the baby's mouth. You should then see the bubbles rushing into the remaining milk. 
  • Your baby may need short breaks during a feed to rest or burp.  Interrupting the feed from time to time will let you see how full baby is and help control how much milk he takes. 
  • Try to keep the number of people who feed your baby as small as possible so that your baby can learn to recognise the people caring for him. 

How often should I feed my baby?

You should feed your baby as much as he wants, as often as he wants. New born babies often take small volumes to start with, but the amount will vary from baby to baby. Don't try and make your baby finish the bottle if he doesn't seem to want to.  Giving lots of milk in 1 feed will not necessarily enable your baby to go longer between feeds. It is just likely to make him sick or put on too much weight.

How do I know if my baby is hungry?

All babies are different.  You will soon learn to recognise the signs of hunger in your baby.  If you can spot these before he is crying for food it will be easier to feed him.  These signs include:

  • starting to move about as they wake up – (this would be a good time to start preparing the milk)
  • moving their head and mouth around
  • finding something to suck, usually their fingers

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?

Your baby'’s weight gain and what's in the nappy will tell you your baby is getting enough to eat. 

  • Your baby will produce at least 6 wet nappies in 24 hours
  • After the first few days your baby will pass a pale yellow or yellow-brown stool.  Bottle fed babies will need to pass stools at least once a day to feel comfortable.
  • Your baby will gain weight steadily.

What if my baby seems constipated?

This can often be resolved with closer attention to the way feeds are made up or by changing the brand of milk.  Please ask your midwife or Health Visitor for advice.

Which bottles and teats should I use?

All feeding bottles are made of food-grade plastic. A simple easy to clean bottle is probably best as some of the shapes and patterns on bottles can make them difficult to clean. 

Teats can be made from rubber or Silicone and vary in shape and speed. There is no evidence that one teat is any better than another. It is fine to try different teats and use the one that suits your baby.

What about winding?

If your baby shows signs of distress during or following a feed, sit baby upright or put him over your shoulder and see if he needs to burp.