Formula Feeding – the Basics

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Whilst professional medical advice is that breastfeeding is undoubtedly best for your baby, some mothers are in a situation where they may wish to or have to choose formula for their baby.  There are excellent formula preparations available and formula can be made ready mixed and ready to feed, but you do need to follow some basics for safe and satisfying feeding. 

Why formula feed?

Breastfeeding is best for your baby however it is not all women that can easily or even successfully breastfeed. Complications can arise where it is necessary to move to formula milk, or a mother may decide to do so as a persona preference. This is a decision for the parents only and their personal choice should be respected. 

What you need to know

Formula can be bought in either powdered form or in liquid form (which is more expensive but convenient). 

Powdered formula must be measured exactly according to the instructions, usually with a scoop which must be levelled off with the back of knife or spatula. The formula must then be mixed thoroughly (by shaking) with boiled water and then either cooled to feed your baby by standing in a jug of cold water or refrigerated for future use. 

Always test the temperature of the milk before you feed by shaking a few drops onto the inside of your wrist to ensure it is not too hot for your baby. 

Refrigerate prepared bottled and reheat using a bottle warmer designed for the purpose, standing in a jug of boiled water, or using a microwave. Always shake the bottle especially after microwaving to ensure there are no ‘hot spots’ which may scald your baby.

The formula should be at a lukewarm to body temperature for your baby, not too hot. 


All parts of the bottles must be thoroughly washed using a bottle brush, rinsed and sterilized including the teats. There are excellent electric steam sterilizers which will do this in several minutes.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions.


Water used to make up formula must be boiled first. It is not advised to use bottled water as this can be high in sodium and is not sterile. 

Cooled boiled water is a great drink for your baby between feeds to keep them hydrated.

Keep made up bottles of formula in the fridge until required.  When travelling use a cooler to keep the bottles cold or use premade liquid formula which you can add to a sterilized bottle when a feed is needed. 

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