If you plan to use formula, here are some guidelines which are not meant to replace your health professional’s advice.
Benefits of Breast Milk
Breast milk gives babies all the nutrients they need for the first 6 months of life and helps protect them from infection and diseases. It is easy for the baby to digest, hygienic, convenient and free. In addition breast milk may also reduce the mother’s chances of getting certain diseases later in life.
Choosing an Infant Formula
Only use infant formula on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian or pharmacist.
Ordinary cows’ milk is not suitable for infants less than one year of age as it does not contain the right balance of nutrients to meet your baby’s needs.
If your baby has been diagnosed with cows’ milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance always talk to your GP or health visitor before choosing or changing to a different type of formula. Your healthcare professional will be able to recommend a suitable product that has been specially formulated so that it is highly unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
Sterilising and Cleaning
In order to ensure the formula is prepared in the safest way possible, it is important to sterilise all feeding equipment before use.
- Wash your hands.
- Wash feeding equipment (bottles, teats, caps) in hot, soapy water using a clean bottle brush.
- Rinse equipment in clean, running cold water before sterilising.
- If your bottles are suitable for sterilizing by boiling – put them in a large pan with water, cover and boil for at least 10 minutes.
- If using a commercial steriliser then ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Making up Infant Formula
It is important to follow the directions on the formula container exactly especially in the amounts of powder and water to use. Any risks from bacteria can be reduced significantly by following these instructions:
- Wash your hands, sterilise all equipment and clean the preparation area.
- Boil freshly run water (do not use bottled water, artificially softened water or water that has been repeatedly boiled).
- Once the water has boiled, leave it in the kettle and allow it to cool for 30 minutes (try and ensure that the water is at a temperature of around 70 C and the 30 minute cooling time is important and will also aid in destroying harmful bacteria which may be present in the powder).
- Pour the correct amount of water into the sterilised feeding bottle (take care as the water will be very hot).
- Use the scoop that is provided with the formula to measure the required amount of powder (consult the feeding guide on the tin). Loosely fill the scoop with powder and level it off using the flat edge of a clean, dry knife or the leveller provided.
- Do not add too much or too little powder as this may make your baby ill.
- Place the cap on the bottle and shake well to mix the powder into the water.
- Cool the bottle under cold, running water until lukewarm.
- Test the temperature of the feed by dropping a little onto the inside of your wrist.
- Feed immediately. Discard any leftover milk or any left in the bottle after 2 hours.
Infant formula is available in powdered form and in liquid ready to feed packs. Ready to feed packs are sterile and are recommended for premature or low birth weight babies. They are also convenient to use when travelling.
Storage of Powdered Infant Formula
To store the unopened container:
- Keep out of the reach of children.
- Store away from heat and direct light.
- Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places.
- Heat or moisture may cause the infant formula to break down.
- Keep the infant formula from freezing.
- Do not keep outdated infant formula or those no longer needed.
Be sure that any discarded infant formula is out of the reach of children.