Sometimes infant formula is chosen by families or is medically necessary alongside or instead of breastfeeding, either temporarily or permanently. The rest of this website outlines the limits of medical indications, as infant formula is often recommended by health professionals more than clinically needed. This page looks at what health professionals need to know about infant formula to ensure families are given the most accurate advice.

All health professionals interacting with families of young babies should be able to advise on what breastmilk substitutes are appropriate for infants to meet their nutritional needs, or to direct to accurate information sources.

In particular, health professionals can reassure families that there is no objective difference between brands of 'first' infant formula, regardless of price. Families in poverty may feel that expensive brands must be better and make sacrifices in order to purchase them, which are not necessary.


All health professionals interacting with families of young babies should be able to describe how to make up infant formula correctly to minimise the risk of bacterial infection from contamination, or to direct families to accurate information sources. Making up formula incorrectly is common.

The final facet of guidance is on responsive bottle feeding, which can be useful for families feeding expressed milk by bottle too. Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative provide information on what responsive feeding means, and there are other NHS resources on how to do cue-based bottle feeding, including a video for parents.

This leaflet summarises the ten key things that families using infant formula need to know.


Thank you for visiting the Hospital Infant Feeding Network. This website is a repository of relevant knowledge and best practice resources for health professionals. To join the conversation, ask questions and share your experiences please join us on Facebook or Twitter.


We will be running Q&A sessions on various topics, which will be advertised on our social media sites. Please email if you have ideas or want to get more involved. We welcome health professionals passionate about supporting breastfeeding and lactation in the hospital setting to join our steering group, please get in contact if this is you!

You may have noticed that we use 'additive' language on our website to refer to lactation and human milk feeding. This means that we might refer to 'breastfeeding/chestfeeding'. Chestfeeding is a term that some non-binary people use to refer to feeding their child at the chest if the word breast is not congruent with their gender identity. Using additive language helps reduce a feeling of exclusion for non-binary and transgender people, without taking away from the importance of words like breastfeeding and mother. There is a much more detailed description of the additive approach here.

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