- Healthy living
- Babies and toddlers
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- Getting ready to breastfeed
- How to breastfeed
- Stages of breastfeeding
- Problems with breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding in public and at work
- Expressing breast milk
- When you or baby are sick
- Baby’s health and nutrition
- Formula feeding
- Your health and nutrition
- When baby is ready for other foods
- Sex and pregnancy
- Special situations
- Supporting a breastfeeding mother
- Where to find help
- Developmental milestones
- Food-related choking
- Fussy eating
- Introducing solids
- Keeping baby safe
- Keeping baby safe in bed
- Learning and development through play
- Nutrition for young children
- Sick baby
- Sleep and settling
- Toilet training your child
- Vitamin D
- Your baby’s bowel motions
- Emergency management
- Environmental health
- Food and physical activity
- Sexual health
- Stop the spread of disease
- Teeth and gums
Infant formula is made for babies up to 12 months who are not breastfed.
If you’re considering using infant formula for your baby, read the HealthEd resource Feeding your Baby Infant Formula. It will tell you:
- what equipment you need
- how to prepare formula safely
- how to bottle-feed your baby.
Not all baby bottles have accurate volume lines on them so check yours does by looking for the standard mark EN14350 on the bottle or packaging. Otherwise take your baby bottles to a pharmacy and ask a staff member to check if your bottles are accurate.
Risks with formula feeding
The compositions of breast milk and formula have important differences. Babies are at greater risk of infection with formula, as people may:
- use ineffective sterilisation techniques
- use unsafe water
- reconstitute formula incorrectly
- store milk powder and/or reconstituted milk incorrectly.
- varies in composition over the lactation period and during a single feed to meet the child’s individual and varying appetite and thirst (and hence nutrition and fluid requirements)
- contains many beneficial bioactive components that assist in baby's gut maturation, physiological development and immunity
- provides nutrients (eg, protein, calcium and iron) that are more easily digested than those in formula
- contains the polyunsaturated fatty acids required for retina and brain development
- contains taurine for fat absorption
Because of these important differences, infant formula does not decrease, and may increase, the risk of infectious and chronic disease.
Never use cows’ milk in place of breast milk or formula
Whole cows’ milk is not suitable for babies under 12 months. Use breast milk or formula as the main drink until baby is 1 year old. Infants fed cows’ milk before 1 year of age are at particular risk of developing depleted iron stores.
Most infant formula is based on cows’ milk. The Food Standard Code for infant formula requires that infant (up to 6 months of age) formula meets the complete energy and nutritional for a healthy full-term infant up to 6 months of age. Around 6 months of age, an infant should also be receiving complementary foods.
Feeding your Baby Infant Formula
Available on HealthEd.
Developed by the Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand.
The New Zealand Food Safety Authority has information on safe formula feeding.