Choosing How To Feed Your Baby

As a parent, deciding how you will feed your baby is one of the most important decisions you will make. This means making a choice that:

  • promotes the health and well-being of your baby and your family,
  • best fits your life circumstances,
  • you feel comfortable with.

There are some things you can do to help decide how to feed your baby:

  • Become informed. The information in the sections below can help you make an informed decision that is right for you and your baby.
  • Seek support. Your health-care provider can help to explore your feeding goals, work through your thoughts and feelings, and answer any questions you may have.
  • Tune into your feelings. You should feel good about your choice. Each individual’s situation and decision are unique.

Watch the videos at Breastfeeding Information for Parents for information to consider when deciding for your family.


Health Canada recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and continue to be breastfed for up to two years and beyond. The longer a mother breastfeeds, the more protection for mother and baby’s health. In fact, breastfeeding can benefit the whole family.

For Baby (click to expand) »
  • Breastmilk has the right mix of nutrients in the right amounts at every feeding to meet your baby’s needs as they grow.
  • Helps your baby develop a strong immune system and helps to protect them from:
    • ear, chest, and stomach infections,
    • some childhood cancers,
    • diabetes,
    • cough and colds,
    • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Helps your baby’s brain develop.
  • Breastfeeding your baby during medical procedures, such as blood tests and vaccinations can lower their pain.
For Mom (click to expand) »
  • Breastfeeding helps you and your baby to bond.
  • Controls bleeding after your baby is born.
  • Slows down the return of your period.
  • Can lower your risk for breast cancer (breastfeeding longer lowers your risk even more).
  • May reduce your chance of getting diabetes and ovarian cancer.
For the Family (click to expand) »
  • Breastfeeding is convenient:
    • it is always at the right temperature for your baby;
    • it is available anytime whether you are at home or out.
  • Breastfeeding is free (can save your family money and lower health care costs).
  • It is environmentally friendly.

If you have questions about the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of not breastfeeding, speak to your health-care provider.

It can take time for you and your baby to get used to breastfeeding, but there are many people who can help you along the way. To learn more about breastfeeding and breastfeeding support, click here.

Formula Feeding

Families may feed their baby formula for many different medical or personal reasons. Some babies are fed only formula while others are fed some formula and some breastmilk. For families who cannot breastfeed or who have made an informed decision not to, commercial infant formula may be a safe alternative. While thinking about your feeding options, it is important to consider some of the risks of formula feeding.

For Baby (click to expand) »
  • Infant formula does not have natural antibodies to protect your baby again illness and infections.
  • Formula-fed babies are at a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), crib death, childhood cancer and diabetes.
  • Your baby can become sick if:
    • infant formula is contaminated with bacteria,
    • water to mix formula is not sterile,
    • the equipment to prepare and feed formula is contaminated or dirty.
For Mom (click to expand) »
  • Feeding infant formula can decrease your breast milk supply if you are breastfeeding.
  • It can be difficult to reverse the decision not to breastfeed or return to breastfeeding after formula feeding if your breast milk supply has decreased.
  • Mothers do not benefit from the same protection that comes with breastfeeding:
    • reduced postpartum bleeding,
    • decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and diabetes,
    • decreased risk of postpartum mood disorders.
For the Family (click to expand) »
  • There is a cost for infant formula, bottles, and nipples.
  • It takes time to clean and sterilize bottles, nipples, and utensils.
  • Infant formula may not always be available or easy to access depending on your location.

Visit Infant Formula: What You Need to Know to learn more about how to choose, prepare, store and feed infant formula.

Watch the videos at Breastfeeding Information for Parents for information to consider when making a decision for your family.

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Last updated: 2024-01-29