Bottle feeding infant formula
You can feed your baby infant formula alone or in combination with breast milk. We can help you get started.
No matter how you feed your baby, it’s a great chance for you and baby to bond. You can make it a special time for both of you by smiling and talking to your baby while feeding. Holding your baby skin-to-skin while feeding, is also a healthy and rewarding experience.
We have services to help you feed your baby. Our services include clinics, telephone, peer support, as well as in-class or online prenatal classes.
We can also help if you are deciding how to feed your baby.
Choosing an infant formula
There are 3 kinds of formula:
- liquid concentrate
Powdered formula shouldn’t be given to babies younger than 2 months. This type of formula can contain bacteria that can harm your baby. Give babies this age ready-to-feed formula or a liquid concentrate formula mixed with water.
Always choose an iron-fortified cow’s milk-based infant formula, unless otherwise advised by your doctor or health care provider.
These tip sheets offer simple steps to prepare infant formula safely for your baby.
- Preparing to feed your baby formula (PDF)
- Sterilizing equipment when making formula (PDF)
- Preparing ready-to-feed formula (PDF)
- Preparing water for making formula (PDF)
- Preparing liquid concentrate formula (PDF)
- Preparing powdered infant formula (PDF)
Feeding your baby infant formula
When bottle feeding your baby infant formula it’s important to control how fast your baby drinks. This is called paced bottle feeding. This method allows your baby to drink at a comfortable pace and helps prevent choking and overfeeding.
Learn how to pace bottle feed and burp your baby.
Knowing when your baby is hungry or satisfied
Your baby should be fed when hungry. There are signs that will tell you when your baby is ready to feed. Watch and listen for:
- Licking lips and opening mouth.
- Trying to suck at whatever is close to baby’s face.
- Rubbing face with hands.
- Sucking on hands.
Your baby is satisfied when they are:
- Falling asleep.
- Turning head to the side.
- No longer sucking.
- Letting go of the nipple.
- Pressing lips together.
Formula must be properly prepared and stored to make sure your baby doesn’t get sick or the formula doesn’t spoil. Bottles of formula must be stored in a fridge and used within 24 hours.
Once you start feeding your baby, the formula should be used within 2 hours. Any leftover formula should be thrown away as it will start to spoil.
Keep unused formula cold. It’s best to store it on the top shelf of the fridge and not in the door.
Take formula out of the fridge just before you are about to feed your baby.
If you are taking prepared formula with you when you leave home:
- Make sure it has fully cooled before carrying it.
- Carry it in a cooler with ice packs.
Safety when bottle feeding
Sometimes infant formula can be recalled. Check Health Canada’s website to make sure there are no recalls on the formula you are using.
Always test the temperature of the formula before starting to feed your baby. Let a drop of formula fall on your wrist. It should feel warm.
Do not add cereal or thickeners to formula because:
- Your baby will not get the right amount of nutrients for proper growth and development.
- It can cause choking.
Your baby will need a vitamin D supplement if you are feeding some breast milk and some formula.
Visit our learning to breastfeed page to see how much vitamin D your baby will need.