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9 out of 10 women start out by breastfeeding their babies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out, and this can cause a sense of loss or guilt. It is important not to think of yourself as a failure. Some things are outside our control, and you should congratulate yourself on any breastfeeding you have been able to accomplish. 

Babies under 12 months should be fed breastmilk or formula.  Cow’s milk or other types of commercial milk don’t have the necessary nutrients essential for babies to develop and grow so should not be used instead of breastmilk or formula. If your attempts to breastfeed have not been successful, you will need to choose an infant formula. All formulas in Australia need to meet national standards, so it doesn’t matter which you choose. It is better, however, to use a lower protein formula. Talk to your Child and Family Nurse, GP or other health professional if you have any concerns about choosing a formula.

Once you start on a formula, it is important not to change too often as this may upset your baby’s feeding routine. If you do change formula, you need to ensure that you carefully check how to prepare the new formula, as there is variation between brands.  Once you have established a feeding routine on one formula, you don’t need to change for at least the first year. Once your baby is a year old, it will be getting more of its energy and vitamins from solid foods, so you can start giving full fat cow’s milk.

To bottle feed your baby consider the following:

  • Prepare the formula according to the directions. Do not add extra formula if you think your baby is hungry
  • Feed your baby when they show signs of hunger like opening their mouth or sucking fingers (see Getting to know your baby)
  • When feeding your baby you should always supervise them, do not leave them unattended, propped up or put them to bed with a bottle
  • Hold them in a semi-upright position, and gently rub the teat against their top lip
  • Gently insert the teat into the baby’s mouth keeping the bottle horizontal or slightly tipped
  • Monitor the baby’s cues for when they need a break. When they stop sucking strongly you can gently remove the teat and see if they want to burp
  • Once you’ve tried burping your baby you can offer the bottle again
  • Don’t worry if they don’t finish the bottle. Allow your baby to guide how much they need. Forcing your baby to finish a feed can lead to over-feeding

If your baby goes to sleep during a feed, you can try waking your baby by putting them over your shoulder and rubbing their back or changing their nappy. Ensure they are fully awake before continuing with a feed.

For more information on bottle feeding see the Raising Children Network website.

[Source Raising Children Network; Unicef]