Infant Formula

Choosing how you will feed your baby is one of the most important decisions you will make as a new parent. If you are trying to decide how to feed your baby, talk to your healthcare provider or check out Choosing How to Feed Your Baby.

If you have decided to feed your baby formula, either alone or along with breastmilk, check out Infant Formula: What You Need to Know to learn how to choose, prepare, store and feed infant formula to your baby. The sections below give some highlights.

Choosing Infant Formula (click to expand) »
  • Use a commercial cow milk based infant formula, unless directed by your healthcare provider.
    • Homemade formulas do not have the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop.
  • Powdered infant formula is not recommended for:
    • Babies who are premature or had a low birth weight and are under two months of age.
    • Babies with a weakened immune system.

Check out Infant Formula: What You Need to Know for other important information.

Preparing Infant Formula (click to expand) »
  • Wash and sterilize all bottles and feeding equipment.
  • Sterilize water used to prepare formula.
  • Prepare formula using one of these types of water:
    • Municipal tap water (unless there is a boil water advisory or a drinking water non-consumption advisory in your community).
    • Private well water tested regularly to make sure it is safe to drink.
    • Bottled water that has no added minerals or vitamins.
  • Prepare formula by hand:
    • Follow the directions on the formula package for the amounts of water and formula.
    • Heat the bottle of formula in a container of warm water. You can also use a bottle warmer. Heating bottles in the microwave can create “hot spots” that could burn your baby’s mouth.
    • Automatic formula preparation machines for use at home are not recommended for preparing formula because:
      • Bacteria can grow in the water if it sits too long in the machine.
      • Water may not be hot enough to kill the bacteria that may be in powdered formula.
      • The formula prepared by the machine may have too much or too little formula or water added.

There is NO age at which it is safe to stop sterilizing equipment or sterilizing water when preparing infant formula.

Check out Infant Formula: What You Need to Know for other important information.

Storing Infant Formula (click to expand) »
  • It is best to use formula immediately after preparing it.

Check out Infant Formula: What You Need to Know for information on how to safely store formula.

Feeding Your Baby Infant Formula (click to expand) »
  • Check to make sure the formula is not too hot before feeding your baby.
  • Use your baby’s appetite to guide you on how much formula to feed. Follow your baby’s cues for hunger and fullness.
  • Throw out any leftover formula after the feeding because it can grow bacteria that can make your baby sick.
  • Always hold your baby in an upright position when feeding. Cuddle, talk to and look at your baby while feeding.

Check out Infant Formula: What You Need to Know for other important information.

Supplementing a Breastfed Baby (click to expand) »

If your baby is breastfed, giving them formula can decrease your breastmilk supply and may lead to stopping breastfeeding before you had planned to.

If you are thinking about using formula, or need to give formula, talk to your health care provider to get help to maintain your breastmilk supply and improve breastfeeding.

You can also check out Infant Formula: What You Need to Know for information about supplementing your breastfed baby.

Services related to this information:

Share This Page:
Last updated: 2021-08-02