Families may choose to give formula for a variety of reasons. You may feed your baby formula only, or give some formula and some breast milk. Giving formula may not be your first choice. For information on supplementing a breastfed baby, speak to your health care provider, or click here for more details (page 4).
If you use formula to feed your baby, it’s important to have the information you need to feel comfortable with your plan. If you are hoping to return to breastfeeding, contact your health care provider or lactation consultant to put in place plans and supports to achieve your goal.
Feeding your baby safely, when he is hungry, and stopping when he is full, is important. This will help you build a close and loving bond with your baby whether you give breast milk, formula, or both.
How to choose formula:
- Cows milk based formula is recommended for most babies who get formula. Most are a cow’s milk base with added nutrients.
- Soy based formulas are not recommended except for babies who have certain medical conditions, as directed by your health care provider.
- Do not use homemade formulas and do not use regular cow’s milk or other animal milks. These do not have the right amount of nutrients and can be harmful to your baby.
- Follow the exact directions on the formula label for amounts of water and formula. Adding extra water to make it thinner, or less water to make it thicker, can be dangerous for your baby.
- Formula fed babies need to stay on commercial formula until 9-12 months of age. “Follow up” formula is not needed.
There are three types of formulas:
- Ready to feed – no water needed
- Liquid concentrate – needs to be mixed with sterile water
- Powder – needs to be mixed with sterile water
Ready to feed and liquid concentrate formulas are sterile until the can is opened.
Powdered formula is not sterile and can carry harmful bacteria that can make your baby sick if not prepared safely.
Babies who have the greatest chance of infections should have sterile liquid formula such as ready to feed or liquid concentrate formulas. These may be babies who:
- Are premature
- Had low birth weight and are under two months old
- Have a weakened immune system, meaning they are more likely to get sick if exposed to germs.
If you are unsure which formula is right for your baby, talk to your health care provider.
It is important that bottles and equipment are cleaned and sterilized after each use, for babies of any age who are being fed formula. Click here for information about cleaning and sterilizing, and for more information about formula feeding.