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 supplementing with formula, consult your health care provider for information on your options. However, for some families breast milk isn’t available or breastfeeding isn’t the right choice, and a store-bought infant formula is recommended.

If you’re using formula, it will be the only food your baby needs for the first 6 months. You should start to introduce solid foods at 6 months, but keep giving formula until your baby is 9 to 12 months old. Once your baby is eating iron-rich foods every day, you may offer whole cow milk, evaporated or powdered milk (provided it is full-fat and properly diluted or mixed with water). If you choose whole goat’s milk, it must be pasteurized and must have vitamin D and folic acid added. It is still too early to give your baby lower fat milk, soy or other plant based drinks (such as almond, rice or coconut). These drinks do not have enough nutrition to meet your growing baby’s needs.

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 yoCouple with a babyur copy of Baby’s Best Chance, available for free from your Public Health Nurse or online (pages 117-122). Information is also available in Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese.

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.

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