Bottle feeding

If you have decided to give your baby formula milk, it is important you know how to make up a feed and sterilise bottles safely.

Milk brands

It doesn’t matter which brand of milk you use, they are all very similar regardless of cost.

Types of milk

There is no evidence for the milks that claim to help hungry babies, prevent colic, wind, reflux or allergies and they may be less safe for your baby.

If you think your baby may need a different milk, including before choosing soy formula, speak to your health visitor, GP, or midwife.

There is no need for stage two, three or four milks (also known as follow on or growing up milks). Stick to a first ‘stage one’ infant formula throughout the first year.

When your baby is one year old, they can start to drink full fat cow’s milk or a plant based equivalent (however, avoid rice milk until five years).

Responsive feeding

The early days with your baby are a great time to get to know each other and bond. Feeding your baby responsively supports this. Responsive feeding means:

  • Feeding your baby when they show feeding cues; e.g. when they move their head from side to side or suck on their hands. Babies often cry after showing feeding cues so try and feed them before they cry.
  • Holding your baby close to you and in a semi-upright position. If possible, try and feed them in skin contact. Take the opportunity to look into their eyes and talk to them during the feed.
  • Starting the feed by rubbing the teat against their top lip. This encourages babies to open their mouth.
  • Gently insert the teat into your baby’s mouth and keep the bottle just above a horizontal position to keep the milk flow slow.
  • Watch your baby’s cues and stop the feed if needed. Never force your baby to finish a bottle as this can be distressing for them and cause them to become overfed.
  • Try and avoid your baby being fed by too many people. A bottle feed is an opportunity for your baby to bond with their parents/carers.