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Facts about formula

Have questions about formula?



We can help you with unbiased information.

preparing formula

If you are thinking of introducing formula to your baby, you may have questions about how to choose and prepare it. 

With all the marketing tactics of formula companies, it can be difficult to find unbiased information. 

The following points may be helpful.

What to consider when choosing a formula

  • In Australia all formulas must meet the required national standards.  There is no evidence that one particular type or brand is better than any other.  Choose what you can afford. 
  • If your baby is under 6 months old, you need to use a 'starter' or 'first' formula. Between 6 and 12 months, starter formula is still suitable or you may use a 'second' or 'follow-on' formula. Over 12 months, your baby doesn't need formula. 
  • It is better to use a formula with a lower protein level to reduce the risk of baby becoming overweight. 
  • Some formulas claim to be better for eye, brain or immune development or in reducing conditions such as colic, reflux and allergies. There isn't much evidence that these types of formulas are effective at doing this.
  • If you need help choosing a formula, chat with a child health nurse or your health care provider.

What to consider when preparing formula

  • ​​​​​​It is very important to follow the instructions on each formula tin. The instructions on one tin of formula may differ from that on another tin. 
  • You will need to clean and sterilise all feeding equipment using a commercial steriliser or a pot and boiling water. 
  • Powdered formula is not a sterile product so you need to be careful when preparing. Very occasionally, powdered formula has been known to contain bacteria and cause harm to babies. 
  • If you are in a situation where you can't boil water, or where there is a ‘do not drink water’ notice, you will need to be extra careful when preparing bottles. 

What to consider when feeding your baby formula

  • How much formula a baby needs depends on how old they are, how big they are and what other foods they are eating. Tins of formula will tell you how much formula babies of different ages might need but these are estimates. Different babies will need different amounts each feed and a different number of feeds in 24 hours.  As with breastfeeding, you should bottle feed according to your baby's need.
  • Babies who are formula fed may be at risk of overfeeding because feeding from a bottle can mean a baby takes in more milk more quickly. Using paced bottle-feeding techniques may help your baby feed according to their need. 
  • Avoid mixing expressed breastmilk and formula in the one bottle. If your baby is having both, it is better to give them separately. Feed the breastmilk first and then the formula if your baby needs it.

Can I keep breastfeeding?

Yes you certainly can. Combining breast and formula feeding is called 'mixed feeding'

Below are some links to documents which will provide you with more information. These articles show you how you can minimise the risks to your baby when you sterilise equipment and prepare and give formula.  

© Australian Breastfeeding Association October 2022