Choosing to bottle feed
Your baby may be unsettled during the first few days as they adjust to life outside of you, at a time when you may feel tired, exhausted and can doubt your abilities to provide for your baby. Giving formula milk may seem like the only solution.
Infant formula does not provide the same health benefits of breast milk for you or your baby. Giving your baby any formula milk can:
- decrease your baby's eagerness to feed at the breast
- lead to a reduced milk supply
- reduce your confidence in your ability to breastfeed your baby
- cause nipple confusion and problems with attachment
If you choose to bottle feed your baby, UNICEF guidance recommends that you responsively feed your baby,
please use the links below to find out more information about responsive bottle feeding and the correct way to sterilise your baby's bottles and make up formula milk.
Find more information on infant formula and responsive bottle feeding from the Baby Friendly Initiative and the start for life website.
We encourage you to bring your own supply of readymade formula into hospital. This should always be a first infant milk, which can be given up to 1 year of age.
Choosing which formula to give your baby
We recommend you use a first infant formula for the first year. The brands are all very similar.
Soya based formula is not recommended for infants under 6 months of age. In infants over 6 months, it should only be used under medical supervision.
When your baby is 6 months old, you can use small amounts of pasteurised whole cow's milk when preparing and cooking foods.
At one-year, full fat cow's milk can be their main milk drink, as they will be getting most of their nutritional requirements from food.
There is no need for follow-on formula.
Further information on formula milks can be found from the First Step Nutrition Trust website at firststepsnutrition.org
Private water supply and formula feeding
We don't recommend you use water from a private supply for formula feeds because it contains bacteria and has the potential to cause ill health.
If connecting to mains water isn't an option, you should use bottled water. Check the levels of sodium and sulphate on the label to make sure they are:
- less than 200 milligrams (mg) a litre of sodium (also written as Na)
- no more than 250mg a litre of sulphate (also written as SO4)
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. Let it cool before you give it to your baby.