Breast milk substitutes

Breast milk provides the best nutrition for babies. It is rare that a woman in unable to or advised not to breastfeed her baby. If you are unsure about breastfeeding or are considering formula feeding, talk to your provider for more information. However, for some families breast milk isn’t available or breastfeeding isn’t the right choice. In these cases, a store-bought infant formula is recommended.

Introducing Breast Milk Substitutes

If you’re using formula, it is the only food your baby will need for the first 6 months. At 6 months, you should begin introducing solid foods. However, continue to give formula until your baby is 9 to 12 months old. Once your baby is eating iron-rich foods every day, you may offer milk substitutes. Milk substitutes include whole cow milk, evaporated or powdered milk (provided that it is full-fat and properly diluted with water). If you choose whole goat’s milk, it must be pasteurized and have vitamin D and folic acid added. It is too early to give lower fat milk, soy or other plant based drinks (e.g., almond, rice or coconut). These drinks do not have enough nutrition to meet your growing baby’s needs.

Preparing Infant Formula Safely

It is very important to prepare and store infant formula safely. This will keep your baby growing well and prevent your baby from becoming sick. Before you start using formula, read through the important formula safety information in Couple with a babyBaby’s Best Chance (Formula Feeding – page 124). To access this information in other languages, click here.

Make sure that you don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula. This can put them at risk of ear infections, choking, or dental decay.

Feeding Your Baby

If you have any questions about using formula, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 and ask to speak to a dietitian.