The Ministry recommends exclusive breastfeeding to around 6 months of age. From around 6 months, babies start to need food and continued breastfeeding to at least one year, or beyond. If a baby is not breastfed, a commercial infant formula should be used until the baby is 12 months old.
Choosing how to feed your baby is an important decision. If you are thinking about using formula, you should talk with your midwife, doctor, or nurse first.
Breast milk is the best food for babies. Breast milk is specially made for your baby. It is warm, safe, nutritious and free, which makes it ideal for healthy growth and development and helps protect your baby from illness. It can take some practice for both the mother and the baby before breastfeeding happens easily, but then it can be a very rewarding experience.
Giving infant formula to a breastfed baby will reduce your milk supply and may make returning to breastfeeding difficult, should you change your mind.
A healthy balanced diet is important for all women but especially for supporting and maintaining breastfeeding.
It is important that you consider issues of cost and convenience when deciding how you will feed your baby.
Infant formula must be prepared and used as directed by carefully following the instructions on the formula tin. Incorrect or unnecessary use of infant formula can be harmful to the health of the baby.
If you have made a decision to use infant formula, read the booklet Feeding Your Baby Infant Formula. It contains information about preparing and using infant formula. It will tell you:
- what equipment you need
- how to prepare formula safely
- how to bottle-feed your baby.