Breastfeeding is the best way of feeding, both for mums and babies. However not all mums can, or choose to, exclusively breastfeed. If mums do decide to introduce formula feeds, there are ways you can support them to continue partial breastfeeding as much as possible, help prevent overfeeding and ensure that they are making up the bottles correctly and safely.

When exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, the Unicef Guide to the Baby Friendly Initiative Standards advises healthcare professionals to encourage mums to maximise the amount of breast milk their baby receives.1

The Guide suggests responsive formula-feeding as a way to prevent overfeeding. Please see our summary of this advice in the Tips on responsive feeding. The Guide also outlines the importance of ensuring mums have the information to make up feeds correctly and safely.

This section also includes helpsheets on how to sterilise and how to prepare a bottle-feed.

  1. Guide to the baby friendly initiative standards. Unicef. Available here.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breast milk is best for babies and breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible. Good maternal nutrition is important for the preparation and maintenance of breastfeeding. Introducing partial bottle-feeding may have a negative effect on breastfeeding and reversing a decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Caregivers should always seek the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian or pharmacist on the need for and proper method of use of infant milks and on all matters of infant feeding. Social and financial implications should be considered when selecting a method of infant feeding. Infant milk should always be prepared and used as directed. Inappropriate foods or feeding methods, or improper use of infant formula, may present a health hazard.