Choosing to bottle feed
While research fully supports breast milk as the best option for infant feeding in terms of your baby's overall health and development, your decision regarding how you wish to feed your baby needs to be based on what you feel is right for you and your baby. Whatever you choose you will be supported by healthcare professionals.
Bottle feeding equipment
If you're planning to bottle feed your baby with expressed breast milk or infant formula you will need to buy bottle feeding equipment, including:
- sterilising equipment
If you're using infant formula you must follow the instructions on the packaging.
You can also speak to your midwife, doctor or health visitor about formula feeding and the options available to you.
Bottle feeding on the NHS website
Bottle feeding your baby on the NCT website
How to make up baby formula
You should always read the instructions of your chosen formula and follow them carefully.
It's very important all feeding equipment is washed and sterilised before being used to make up your baby's formula. This will reduce the risk of sickness and infection.
Step-by-step of how to make up baby formula on the NHS website
Private water supply and formula feeding
It's not recommended that you use water from a private supply for formula feeds. This is because a private water supply contains bacteria and has the potential to cause ill health. If you have a private water supply and connecting to mains water isn't an option, then you should use bottled water. Check the levels of sodium and sulphate on the label to make sure they are:
Like tap water, bottled water needs to be boiled to make sure it's safe for use in infant formula. Always use boiled water at a temperature of at least 70°C to make up a feed. Remember to let it cool before you give it to your baby.
Formula and allergies
A small percentage of babies can have an intolerance or allergy to a certain formula.
Symptoms your baby might have include:
- being fussy after feeding
- crying inconsolably for long periods
- stomach rumbling and pains
- skin reactions such as a rash
- runny or blocked nose
If you think your baby is reacting to a particular formula then speak to your Health Visitor or GP. If necessary, they may prescribe an alternative formula for your baby.
Babies often bring up milk during or shortly after feeding, this is known as posseting or reflux.
It's different from vomiting, where a baby's muscles forcefully contract. Reflux is just your baby effortlessly spitting up whatever they've swallowed.
It's very common and will usually pass by the time your baby is a year old.
There are a few things you can do to help your baby with reflux.
- burping your baby regularly throughout feeding
- giving your baby smaller but more frequent feeds
- holding your baby upright for a perod of time after feeding
- using thicker milk formulas that are less likely to be brought back up (these are available to buy without a prescription, but only try them if advised to by a healthcare professional)
Reflux in babies on the NHS website