Pregnancy week by week



Choosing a formula

Breast milk is the healthiest choice for babies, however some mothers are not able to breast feed their baby. For babies who cannot be breastfed, commercial infant formula is recommended. All formula milks are nutritionally complete; they provide all the nourishment a baby needs from birth to weaning. But, while the nutritional content of formula milk mimics human milk, it cannot provide the many immunological and anti- infective properties provided by breast milk.

Infant formula milk usually comes in powder form and is based on processed, skimmed cows’ milk and is treated so babies can digest it. The amount and type of protein, fat and carbohydrates are changed so as to make it similar to breast milk. Some extra minerals such as iron and vitamins have also been added. These changes make the formula the right balance of nutrition for babies. Infant formula powders are not sterile, so it is important to follow the cleaning and sterilising instructions.

Which infant formula is best?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you don’t need to use a certain brand of formula. The formula your baby was on in the hospital does not mean is the “best” one to use. So you might want to decide which one to use based on cost and what brand you can easily buy. There are not a lot of differences between brands. The one used from birth to six months are called “starter” or “step 1” formulas.  From six months to one year is step 2 and one year onwards is step 3. Some brands also have a different formula for preterm babies.

Can I give my baby cow’s milk instead of formula?

No. Cow's milk is not the right main milk drink to give to babies. It has too much protein, salt and minerals, and not enough vitamins or iron. Cow's milk can be hard for your baby to digest and can cause some health problems (such as low blood levels of iron) if it is your baby's main food. This includes full cream, reduced fat, low fat, skimmer or skim milk, evaporated or powdered milk, sweetened condensed milk, pasteurised milk and UHT (long-life) milk.

Continue to use formula as the main drink until your baby is 12 months old. After your baby is 6 months old, you may begin to use full cream cow's milk in small amounts. Once you have started giving solid foods to your baby (by around 6 months of age), you can use small amounts of full cream cow's milk in foods such as custard, yoghurt, milk desserts, or on cereal.

When your baby is over 12 months old, you may stop using formula and change to full cream cow's milk as the main drink. This is a good time to stop using the bottle, so try to give cow's milk from a cup (you can use a cup for water from around 6 months if you wish). 600ml of milk a day is enough, as your baby will be eating a good range of foods by now to get all the nutrients she needs.

Using formula milk safely

Powdered infant formula milk must be prepared as carefully as possible. It is not a sterile product, and even though tins and packets of milk powder are sealed, they can contain bacteria such as Cronobacter sakazakii  and, more rarely, salmonella.

If the feed is not prepared safely, these bacteria can cause infections. Infections are very rare, but can be life-threatening. Formula must therefore be made up with water hot enough to kill the bacteria- at least 70 degree C. In practice, this means boiling the kettle and leaving it to cool for no longer than 30 minutes. Very young babies are at most risk. Once you have prepared the formula as per given instructions, cool quickly to feeding temperature in cold water before feeding your baby.

It’s also essential to make up a fresh bottle for each feed. Throw away unused formula within two hours. Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature and can even survive and multiply slowly in some fridges, so storing formula milk for any length of time increases the risk.

Vitamin drops

If your baby is formula fed, you may need to give them vitamin drops from the age of six months. You must always consult your doctor before buying any vitamin drops.

Bottle feeding checklist
  • Feeding bottles x 6

  • Newborn teats (start with slow flow for younger babies, switching to faster flow as they grow older)

  • Bottle and teat brush

  • Steriliser (steam, cold water, or microwave)

  • Muslin squares 6 to 12

  • Newborn bibs x 5

  • Formula milk powder dispenser for travelling purpose

  • Bottle travel bag

What you will need

If you have decided to formula feed your baby, you will need six to eight bottles with extra teats and steriliser.

Teats come with various rates of flow. Check the flow before each feed; there should be around two or three drops of milk a second. A cross cut hole will give a bigger flow of milk than a pin hole. Too small a hole will mean your baby gets frustrated. If the hole is too large, the milk will gush out.  Small holes can be enlarged with a sterilised pin or needle, but check the flow rate again afterwards. Wash and sterilise the teat before using it.

Cleaning bottles and teats
  • Milk is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infection and gastroenteritis, which can be dangerous for babies. It is therefore essential to wash and then sterilise all bottles and teats before use.

  • Before washing bottles and equipment, wash your hands well with soap and water.

  • Clean and disinfect kitchen counters using a kitchen sanitizer.

  • Wash bottles, nipples, rings, caps and other equipment for preparing  formula, in hot soapy water with a bottle brush. Use a long brush to scrub inside the bottles and nipples. Rinse.

  • Turn the nipples inside out and wash well. Run water through the hole to ensure every last trace of milk is removed from hard to reach places.

  • Put the washed bottles and nipples into the steriliser and follow the manufacturers’ instructions.


All the equipment used for feeding your baby must be sterilised. By sterilising your feeding equipment, washing your hands and keeping the preparation area clean, you will reduce the chance of your baby getting sick. The following cleaning and sterilising instructions apply whether you are using expressed breast milk or infant formula milk.

Cold water sterilising: needs just cold water and sterilisation tablet or liquid. This method takes longer but is simple to use. Change the sterilising solution every 24 hours, and leave feeding equipment in the solution for at least 30 minutes. Make sure there is no air trapped in the bottles or teats when putting them in sterilising solution.

Steam sterilising (electric or microwave): the electric steriliser is quick and efficient but not a good option if you are travelling. The microwave steriliser is quick, compact and easy-to-use, but generally smaller, so you cannot sterilise as much at a time. Make sure the openings of the bottles and teats are facing down in the steriliser. Any equipment not used straight away should be re-sterilised before use.





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