Responsive formula feeding

The early days with your baby are a great time to get to know and love each other. This can be done by keeping your baby close to you, enjoying skin contact and feeding according to these tips. Babies will feel more secure if most feeds are given by mum and dad, especially in the early weeks, as this will really help you bond with each other.

  • Babies who are bottle fed should be held close and cuddled just like a breast fed baby would be. This will help you to develop a close bond with your baby. Some things are the same for breastfed and bottle fed babies:
  • Babies need an adult who is paying attention to them while they are being fed
  • Make eye contact with your baby, talk to her and take time to enjoy feeding her
  • Babies should be allowed to decide when and how much milk to drink. Never force your baby to finish her bottle
  • Only give her breastmilk or formula milk during the first six months. She doesn’t need any other food or drinks.

Responsive bottle feeding

In this video Leigh-Anne Hartley, infant feeding coordinator at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust provides some top tips for responsive feeding.

The best milk for a bottle fed baby

If you are bottle feeding you should give your baby formula based on cows’ milk as her main milk drink for the first year, unless you have been advised to use another sort of milk by a doctor. Look for a milk which is labelled ‘suitable from birth’ – sometimes called ‘first stage milks’. You can use this milk all through your baby’s first year. There is no need to change milk. You may notice lots of advertising trying to get you to buy other milks, but they are not needed. If you are not sure ask your health visitor.

Health Visiting Services ABUHB

A helpful video for parents in which staff from Flying Start talk through the subject of Bottle Feeding and Sterilisation.



What you need for formula feeding

You need to make sure you clean and sterilise all equipment to prevent your baby from getting infections and stomach upsets.

 Please click here for for advice on sterilising your feeding equipment.

                                   Making up powdered milk safely                     


              What should I do?            

        Why is this important?      

Make up feeds one at a time as your baby needs them. Don’t make a batch and store it This will stop bacteria growing in the milk and make it safer for her.
Sterilise all bottles and equipment to be used. Your baby’s immune system is not well developed. Sterilising kills any germs on the bottles and teats, reducing the risk of infection from germs.
Use water from the cold tap to put in your kettle ready for making up a feed. Do not use bottled or artificially softened water. Bottled water is not sterile and may contain too much sodium or sulphate.

                         Making up a feed using formula milk powder        

            What should I do?                

           Why is this important?    

Use a kettle to boil at least 1 litre of fresh water from the cold tap. Do not re–boil

water that has been standing in the kettle. Let the water cool a bit before making

up your feed but not for longer than 30 minutes*              kettle filling.jpg

This will help you to be sure that the water you use to mix the formula is

above 70°C. This will kill most of the germs or bacteria that may be in the milk.

water temp.jpg

Clean and disinfect all equipment and work surfaces, wash your hands and keep

teat and bottle cap on the upturned lid of the steriliser. If you are using a

cold–water steriliser, shake off excess solution and rinse bottles in cooled boiled

water from the kettle. Don’t use tap water to rinse any of the equipment after you

have sterilised it.    cold water.jpg

This will help prevent the germs in tap water, on your hands or on work

surfaces from getting into the milk.

Pour the correct amount of cooled, boiled water into bottles. Double–check the

volume of water before adding the powder. water in bottle.jpg

This is to make sure the amount of water is correct and that the milk is

not too strong or too weak.

Always check the instructions carefully for the powder you are using. Fill the

scoop loosely with milk powder. Level off the scoop using the leveller

provided, or the back of a clean, dry knife. Always use the scoop you get with

the powder you are using. Add the powder to the water in the bottle.


Different milk powders and different makes have different scoops. The

wrong amount of powder may result in the milk being too strong or too weak.

Holding the edge of the teat, put it on the bottle and then secure the retaining

ring and cap. lid on bottle.jpg

This will make sure the teat does not get dirty.
Shake the bottle until the powder is dissolved. shake bottle.jpg This will make sure that the milk is mixed properly

Cool the milk by holding the bottom of the bottle under cold running water.

cool bottle.jpg

Do not allow the tap water to touch the bottle cap. 

Test the temperature of the milk by shaking a small amount onto the inside

of your wrist. It should be body temperature and feel warm or cool but not hot. 

test temp.jpg

This will make sure the milk is the right temperature.
Throw away any of the feed that has not been used.  This is to make sure you do not give your baby old milk by mistake.


If you need to feed your baby away from home a convenient choice is to use ready to feed infant formula with an empty sterilised feeding bottle. However, if you are using powdered formula you will need:

  • A measured amount of formula in a small, clean, dry container
  • A vacuum flask of hot water that has just been boiled
  • An empty sterilised feeding bottled with a cap

Make up the fresh feed when your baby needs it – the water must still be hot when you use it otherwise any bacterial in the formula may not be killed.

The vacuum flask does not need to be sterilised but it should be cleaned and only used for your baby.

The safest option is to make up a feed only when your baby needs it. If you do need to make up formula feed before your baby needs it, store it in the back of the fridge and use within 24 hours.

If transporting a made up feed, cool it for one hour in the back of the fridge and then:

  • Store in a cool bag with an ice pack – and use within four hours
  • Or if you cannot store it in a cool bag – use within two hours

When you are ready to use the feed, place the bottle in a container of warm water to heat it. Never use a microwave to warm milk as the milk heats unevenly and you could scald your baby’s mouth.

Always test the feed on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot before you feed your baby

Remember to cool the feed before giving it to your baby

Remember the safest option is to make up a feed only when your baby needs it.

For the first few days after birth, your baby will pass dark, sticky poo (known as meconium). Then after the first week, your baby's poo will be more of a pale yellow or yellowish-brown.

Expect your baby to produce around 6 wet nappies a day. These nappies should be heavy with clear or pale-yellow urine.

Every day, your baby should have at least 6 wet nappies and at least one soft poo. If you are concerned your baby is not getting enough milk, speak to your midwife or health visitor.

Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

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