Types of Formula
It can be tricky to choose which formula is best for your baby as there are a number of different types of formula available in shops.
Cow's Milk Based FormulaThe majority of newborns are recommended to feed on cow's milk based formula as it contains the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. The proteins taken from the cow's milk (whey and casein) are modified so they resemble those in breast milk. This means the milk is more easily digested by babies' digestive systems.
You can continue to feed your baby with this formula until they are a year old, then they will be able to digest whole cow's milk.
If your GP has not suggested otherwise, cow's milk formula is probably the most suitable for your baby. However, some babies are unable to feed on cow's milk (for example if they have a cow's milk allergy) and your GP may recommend a different type of formula.
Soy-Based FormulaSoy-based formula is not made from cow's milk, it is made from soya beans. It may be recommended if your baby is allergic to cow's milk or if you are a vegan. However, lots of babies who are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy so you should only ever use a soy-based infant formula if it has been prescribed by your GP.
Lactose Free FormulaIf your baby is lactose intolerant, your GP will recommend a lactose free baby formula. A different sugar is used instead of lactose, so your baby will be able to digest it.
Soy-based formulas may also be recommended if your baby is lactose intolerant. Talk to your GP to find out which is most suitable for your baby.
Formula for Premature and Low Birth Weight BabiesThese formulas tend to contain a higher number of calories and more protein to encourage small babies to put on weight.
Forms of FormulaFormula can be purchased in three different forms:
Ready Made CartonsYou don't need to add any water to these as they contain all the ingredients needed. It can be poured straight into a sterilised bottle and refridgerated or fed to your baby straight away.
Ready made cartons are convenient when you're out and about as you don't need to measure anything, you don't need to have access to safe water and they are completely sterile.
The disadvantages are that they must be consumed within 24 hours of opening and they generally cost quite a bit more than other formulas.
Liquid Concentrate FormulaThis must be mixed with an equal amount of water (check the instructions) and refridgerated or fed to your baby straight away.
Powdered FormulaThis is the cheapest way of buying formula. Follow the instructions on the packet very carefully as getting the measurements as accurate as possible is important to ensure your baby gets the right amount of nutrients.
This method of making up bottles is more time consuming but once a container has been opened it will last for a month.
If you are unsure about which formula is best for your baby you should visit your GP for more advice.
Milk to AvoidBabies under one year old should not be given the following types of milk to drink:
Cow's Milk that hasn't been prepared properly as an infant formula
The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and states that babies fed exclusively on breast milk for their first six months will develop most healthily.
Visit our Breastfeeding Section