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Choosing baby formula

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Switching formula

Switching baby milks from one formula to another may be necessary if your baby doesn’t seem to get on with a particular formula. However if they develop symptoms such as:

  • Dry, red and scaly skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Forceful vomiting

These symptoms can be a sign of other health issues not linked to baby milk choice. If your baby has any of these symptoms that last more than a few hours, you should seek prompt medical advice. If your baby’s symptoms are related to their baby milk, you will get expert advice on how to deal with this. There are a range of baby milks designed for babies with food allergy or intolerance available on prescription from your GP.

Hungry babies may need a change of formula if they are gaining too much weight too quickly. Don’t be tempted to introduce solids to your baby too early. If you’re concerned about your baby's appetite, talk to your health visitor.

What about switching to follow-on milks when the baby gets older?

Follow-on milks are only suitable for babies from 6-12 months of age as part of a mixed diet. These formulas have more protein and iron than baby milk, but may not be needed by your baby. Talk to your health visitor if you want advice as to whether to use a follow on milk.

Tips for using baby formula

Now that you have the basic formula facts, here are some quick tips for safe and effective feeding with formula.

Feeding

  • Feed your newborn as much baby formula on demand, but don’t force them to finish a bottle he’s no longer interested in.
  • Read the instructions on your baby’s formula to find out exactly how much powder should be added to the bottle of previously boiled water.
  • Don’t ‘water down’ infant formula. Not only will the baby get too few nutrients, but there’s also a small but serious risk of 'water intoxication'. This over-consumption of water can disturb a baby’s electrolyte balance, resulting in seizures or brain damage
  • Never give your baby other animal milks or plant milks that are not baby milks.
  • Although your baby may have been having milk-based foods such as yoghurt as part of their weaning diet from 6 months of age, from a year old cow’s milk is fine to use. Full-fat milk (4% fat) is recommended initially. If you are choosing a plant milk as part of a toddler diet, do not give rice milk. Rice milk has a natural level of arsenic which children under 5-years old cannot tolerate.

Safety

  • Wash your hands with soap before preparing your baby’s bottle.
  • Sterilise baby bottles and teats in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. The teats may change colour, but they’re still fine to use. After use, simply wash bottles, teats and caps in the dishwasher. Or wash them by hand with a bottle and teat brush in hot, soapy water and rinse very well. However clean bottles may look, they still need to be sterilised again before making up more baby milk.
  • Always keep prepared baby formula in the fridge until you need it. Read the instructions on the formula container to see how long it may be stored. Generally, a prepared bottle of powdered infant formula should be used within two hours, and must be used within 24 hours, and a prepared bottle ready-to-use formula within 48 hours.
  • Don’t heat your baby’s bottle in the microwave. Microwave ovens heat unevenly, creating hot-spots in liquids that can burn a baby’s mouth. You can make use of the microwave’s convenience by heating a mug of water in it and then standing the bottle of milk in that mug for a minute or two. Check the temperature on your skin before offering it to your baby.
  • Feed your baby a cool or room temperature bottle if they seem to prefer it
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