Healthy Eating Guideline

If an infant is not breastfed, is partilally breastfed, or if breastfeeding is discontinued, use an infant formula until 12 months of age.

Although breastmilk is best, if breastfeeding isn’t possible, infant formula is the only safe alternative. Until babies are 12 months of age, infant formulas should be the main drink given to babies who have either ceased breastfeeding or are partially breastfed. Infant formula should be prepared according to the manufacturer’s directions and given to babies in a clean bottle or cup.

Safe handling of bottles and formula in the early childhood setting

Parents should provide sterilised bottles and teats, as well as pre-measured powdered formula, each day. These need to be labelled clearly with the date, the child’s name and the amount of water with which it is to be mixed. Water for infant formula should be prepared by bringing a fresh kettle or jug of water to the boil and allowing it to boil for 30 seconds (or, for an automatic electric kettle, until the cut-off point). Water should then be cooled before use. Infant formula should always be prepared as close as possible to the time it is needed. It is safest to prepare feeds individually, and not in bulk.

It is not safe for parents to provide already prepared infant formula – this is to avoid the small risk of bacteria growing in the pre-prepared formula and causing illness.

Your setting may prefer that parents bring bottles already filled with the correct amount of pre-boiled and cooled water. This saves staff and carers from having to boil and cool water before feeding each baby.

When making bottles of formula, remember the following:
  • Water from water boiling units is not suitable for young children.
  • Infant formula should be prepared as close as possible to the time of its consumption.
  • If formula needs to be stored after it has been mixed, store it in the refrigerator until use and do not keep it longer than 24 hours.
  • Don’t add anything extra to infant formula. Adding infant cereal or other ingredients can interfere with babies’ feeding.
  • Do not warm bottles of formula in the microwave. Heat bottles in a water bath, for no longer than 10 minutes. This will heat the bottle evenly and reduce the risk of burning the baby.
  • After use, rinse all bottles and teats in cold water and send them home to be washed and sterilised.

Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk should not be given to babies as a main drink until they are at least 12 months of age. Small amounts of cow’s milk can be added safely to mixed foods for babies after about nine months. However, reduced-fat milks are not recommended for children under the age of two years.