Formula-feeding your baby

First stage milk is suitable for the first 12 months of your baby’s life. If you are considering formula milk, please discuss this with your midwife or health visitor who can give you advice. When using formula milk to feed your baby, please discuss this with your midwife or health visitor who can give you advice. When using formula milk to feed your baby, it is important that you prepare it in the safest way possible. Tins and packets of milk powder are not sterile even when sealed and can contain harmful bacteria, which, if the feed is prepared incorrectly can cause infections that can be life threatening.

Cleaning and sterilising – this apples if you are breast or formula feeding.

  • Wash your hands and work surfaces
  • Clean all feeding equipment in hot soapy water then rinse under running water before sterilising. Remove all traces of milk.
  • For cold water sterilising units, follow the manufacturers instructions. Change the sterilising solution every 24 hours. Completely immerse the bottles and teats in the solution, ensuring no air is trapped in them. Keep all the equipment under the solution by using the floating cover. It will take at least 30 minutes to sterilise the equipment.
  • For steam sterilisers follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure the openings of the bottles and teats are facing down in the unit. Any equipment not used immediately should be resterilised before use.

Making up feeds – always make up bottles fresh at each feed. 

Never store milk in the fridge for later.

  • Use fresh tap water to fill the kettle.
  • After it has boiled, let it cool for no more than 30 minutes. The optimal temperature to prepare the feed is 70°C. Do not use artificially softened water, or kettle water that has been repeatedly boiled. If you have to use bottled water (if you are on holiday), it will still have to be boiled.
  • Shake off any excess water from the bottle and stand on a clean surface. Always pour the cooling boiled water first. Check the bottle is filled to the required level.
  • Follow the formula manufacturer’s instructions. Loosely fill the scoop with milk powder and level it off with the flat side of a clean knife or leveller.
  • Never add extra scoops, sugar or cereals to the bottle as this can make your baby ill or choke.
  • Carefully attach the teat, retaining ring and cap on the bottle and shake until all the powder is dissolved.
  • Make sure the feed is not too hot; 70°C can cause scalds. You may need to cool the bottle in cool water before giving it to your baby. Always test a small amount on the inside of your wrist to check it is cool enough to give to your baby.

Feeding your baby

  • Sit comfortably and cuddle your baby close looking into their eyes.
  • Tilt the bottle slightly so milk reaches the end of the teat.
  • Invite your baby to take the teat by gently rubbing it against their top lip.
  • When your baby opens their mouth and pokes their tongue out, place the teat in their mouth and your baby will draw it in.
  • Allow your baby to pace the feed by removing the teat at various times to give them a break.
  • Never force your baby to take a full feed and throw away any unused milk left in the bottle.
  • Limit the number of people who feed your baby to you and your partner, particularly in the early weeks, as this will help them feel safe and secure.