Formula feeding

While breastfeeding and breast milk are the best and healthiest option for feeding babies, many women choose to formula feed. Mothers who choose to formula feed exclusively or partially, or who are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons – for example, if the mother has a blood-borne virus, such as hepatitis B or HIV, or if they are taking a certain type of medication that can be passed on to the baby through breast milk (although this is very rare) – should be supported and given information on how to formula feed safely including how to recognise if the baby is feeding well.

It is also important that women understand that giving infant formula milk to a breastfed baby can make breastfeeding harder and, if they stop breastfeeding, it can be difficult to restart. This is because the mother’s milk supply responding to the number of feeds a baby takes from the breast, giving formula feeds, particularly in the first six weeks, is likely to mean the body will make less milk. Some babies take more formula than they need, making them less hungry at the next breastfeed so they take less breast milk and the breasts then respond by making less and less milk, increasing the need to use formula milk.

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