Feeding your baby

Formula milk and bottle feeding

Introducing formula can reduce your milk supply. If you are thinking about giving your baby formula milk, speak with your midwife, health visitor or health visiting team or call Newham Baby Feeding Helpline on 07534249611 for support and information about safe bottle feeding and protecting your milk supply. 

Sometimes parents are advised by their midwife, health visitor, breastfeeding specialist or doctor to give baby more milk than breastfeeding alone. This is called supplementation or top up feeds and should be part of a feeding plan, with support to maximise her milk supply. Supplements can be Expressed breast milk (EBM) or formula milk.

EBM can be stored in the fridge or freezer. EBM can be warmed in a basin of warm water (never microwave)

If your baby cannot be exclusively breastfed, they will need a formula milk until they are 12 months. First stage is recommended. It really doesn’t matter which brand as they are all similar – there’s lots of helpful information in the booklet Infant milks – a simple guide.

After 12 months full fat cow’s milk is recommended.

Like breastfeeding, following baby’s feeding cues, holding baby close, and feeding responsively is best for baby. Hold baby upright, invite baby to take the teat, and keep the bottle horizontal so baby can control the flow of milk. Frequent pauses give baby time to know when they’ve had enough milk. Never force baby to finish a feed.

However you feed your baby, feeding time is a lovely opportunity for you to get to know and love each other. 

Your baby will like to be close to you and will enjoy skin contact. Babies feel more secure if most feeds are given by their parents, especially in the early weeks, as this will really help create strong bonds. 

The Guide to bottle feeding leaflet provides information on:  

  • Choosing formula milks  
  • Cleaning and sterilising equipment  
  • Safe preparation of milk  
  • Responsive paced bottle feeding, to reduce the risk of overfeeding  
  • How to hold your baby for feeding  
  • When to feed your baby  
  • How to tell your baby is getting enough milk

More information about breastfeeding and bottle feeding is available in languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian and Urdu: Baby feeding in other languages  

Bottle Feeding Assessment Form (PDF)