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Formula feeding

Formula feeding means feeding your baby cow's (or goat's or soya) milk that's specially treated to be suitable for babies.

Planning to formula feed

Most mums know that breastfeeding is good for them and their baby, but sometimes still feel that formula/bottle feeding is the best option for them and their family. If you can, do give breastfeeding a try, especially in the first hours and days, but don't worry if breastfeeding doesn't work out for you.

Responsive bottle feeding

Even if you are formula feeding, you should still feed your baby as soon as they show signs that they are hungry, and you can still experience skin-to-skin contact - which is particularly important for calming your baby and building a special bond in the early days. Watch the video below to find out more about feeding your baby in this way (sometimes called responsive, baby-led or on-demand feeding.)

What you need to know about formula milks and bottle feeding

Formula labelled 'first milks' are all you need for your baby's first year. You don't need 'follow on milk' at any stage, and after a year ordinary full fat cows milk is fine. All brands are very similar, and it doesn't matter if you choose cow's or goat's milk for your baby. Talk to your midwife or health visitor before opting for soya-based milk. Watch out for milks claiming added extras, such as preventing allergies, colic or wind. There's no proof that these are needed or that they even work.

Feeding your baby formula milk safely

There are a few things you need to be aware of before you feed your baby formula milk - making up feeds, cleaning and storing bottles must be done in a certain way to avoid your baby getting ill. The video below goes through making up a bottle safely step-by-step.

Building a loving bond with your baby

Your baby will feel most safe and secure if feeds are carried out by you and your partner only for the first few weeks. Maintain eye contact with your baby and invite them to take the teat of the bottle rather than pushing it into their mouth.

Helpful links

All the information you need to know to safely feed your baby formula can be found in Health Scotland's handy booklet, whilst First Steps Nutrition offers detailed information on the different types of formula available in the UK.

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Last updated: 19 Mar, 2020