Formula feeding

Breast milk is the best food for most babies. However, some moms may be unable to breastfeed for health or other reasons. If you choose to feed your baby formula, there are some important things to know.

Formula comes ready to serve or in a liquid or powder that you mix with water. Check with your provider to see how much and what kind of formula your baby needs. Newborns eat about 2 to 3 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours.

How do you choose a formula for your baby?

When shopping for formula, follow these tips:

  • Choose a formula that is fortified with iron, unless your baby's health care provider tells you otherwise.
  • Ask your baby's health care provider to recommend a brand of formula.
  • Once you find a brand that your baby likes, use only that brand. Don't switch back and forth between brands.
  • Call your baby's health care provider if your baby has gas, a rash, or diarrhea, is vomiting or has other signs that the formula is not agreeing with her. You may need to change brands or switch to a hydrolyzed or soy-based formula.

How do you feed your baby formula?

Here's how to feed your baby formula:

  1. Wash your hands before you prepare your baby's bottle.
  2. Follow the directions on the formula package and fill the bottle with the right amount of formula. Use only the scoop that comes with your formula package. Some formula packages have different size scoops.
  3. If you use a bottle with a plastic liner, squeeze out all the air before you fill it so it won't cause your baby to have gas.
  4. If you use a powder for formula, ask your baby's health care provider if you should boil cold tap water or use sterilized bottled water to prepare it. Never heat a bottle in the microwave; it could get too hot for your baby.
  5. Tip the bottle to keep the nipple full of milk. Put the nipple in your baby's mouth. Never prop the bottle or put your baby to bed with a bottle; she could choke on the formula.
  6. After feeding, wash bottles, nipples and anything you use to prepare the formula in hot soapy water.

How can you keep bottlefeeding safe?

Here are some tips for keeping bottlefeeding safe for your baby.

  • Boil bottles and nipples for 5 minutes before you use them the first time. Wash them for 1 minute in hot, soapy water and rinse after each use.
  • Check the "Use By" date on the formula package. Make sure the date hasn't expired.
  • Don't heat formula in the microwave. Some parts can heat up more than others and burn your baby.
  • To keep bacteria from growing, don't leave formula out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
  • Throw out formula from unfinished bottles to avoid bacteria from growing.
  • Be sure to use the right amount of water to mix with your baby's formula. Too much water may keep your baby from getting the right amount of nutrients she needs to grow. Too little water may cause diarrhea or dehydration.


Last reviewed: June, 2012

Breast milk is the best food for most babies. However, some moms may be unable to breastfeed for health or other reasons. If you choose to feed your baby formula, there are some important things to know.

Formula comes ready to serve or in a liquid or powder that you mix with water. Check with your provider to see how much and what kind of formula your baby needs. Newborns eat about 2 to 3 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours.

How do you choose a formula for your baby?

When shopping for formula, follow these tips:

  • Choose a formula that is fortified with iron, unless your baby's health care provider tells you otherwise.
  • Ask your baby's health care provider to recommend a brand of formula.
  • Once you find a brand that your baby likes, use only that brand. Don't switch back and forth between brands.
  • Call your baby's health care provider if your baby has gas, a rash, or diarrhea, is vomiting or has other signs that the formula is not agreeing with her. You may need to change brands or switch to a hydrolyzed or soy-based formula.

How do you feed your baby formula?

Here's how to feed your baby formula:

  1. Wash your hands before you prepare your baby's bottle.
  2. Follow the directions on the formula package and fill the bottle with the right amount of formula. Use only the scoop that comes with your formula package. Some formula packages have different size scoops.
  3. If you use a bottle with a plastic liner, squeeze out all the air before you fill it so it won't cause your baby to have gas.
  4. If you use a powder for formula, ask your baby's health care provider if you should boil cold tap water or use sterilized bottled water to prepare it. Never heat a bottle in the microwave; it could get too hot for your baby.
  5. Tip the bottle to keep the nipple full of milk. Put the nipple in your baby's mouth. Never prop the bottle or put your baby to bed with a bottle; she could choke on the formula.
  6. After feeding, wash bottles, nipples and anything you use to prepare the formula in hot soapy water.

How can you keep bottlefeeding safe?

Here are some tips for keeping bottlefeeding safe for your baby.

  • Boil bottles and nipples for 5 minutes before you use them the first time. Wash them for 1 minute in hot, soapy water and rinse after each use.
  • Check the "Use By" date on the formula package. Make sure the date hasn't expired.
  • Don't heat formula in the microwave. Some parts can heat up more than others and burn your baby.
  • To keep bacteria from growing, don't leave formula out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
  • Throw out formula from unfinished bottles to avoid bacteria from growing.
  • Be sure to use the right amount of water to mix with your baby's formula. Too much water may keep your baby from getting the right amount of nutrients she needs to grow. Too little water may cause diarrhea or dehydration.


Last reviewed: June, 2012