Choosing a Baby Milk

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All baby formulas meet strict regulations to make sure they are nutritionally adequate for your baby – but choosing one can still be complicated. Here’s what you need to know.

If you decide to use baby milk to feed your little one (either as a supplement to breastmilk or as a substitute), choosing a formula will be a big decision. Today’s milks offer high-quality nutrition for babies (they’re required by law to meet some very strict guidelines). They’re based on either cows’ milk or goats’ milk, with carefully adjusted carbohydrate, protein and fat levels, and are enriched with specific levels of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Milks in the first year

You’ll generally find there are four types of milk available for different stages of your baby’s development. These are:

  • First infant milk 1 – suitable for use from birth onwards
  • Hungry infant milk – may help delay the early onset of weaning for hungrier bottle fed babies – suitable for use from birth onwards
  • Follow on milk 2 – for use from 6 months
  • Growing up milk 3 – from the 12 month onwards

Should I use the same stage of formula milk throughout my baby’s first year of life?

If your baby is happy, healthy, gaining weight steadily and has regular bowel movements, you don’t need to change the milk you are using in this first year. If you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding, or if you are thinking about changing the brand or type of milk you use, it’s best to speak to your health visitor or GP about it first.

Your baby should drink either breastmilk or infant milk for at least the first year of life. From 6 months, however, you may choose to use a follow on milk. These milks, which are usually labelled as stage 2, are formulated to be used alongside a varied weaning diet and are higher in iron than first infant milks.

From 12 months, when babies become active toddlers, you may wish to switch to a growing up milk. Growing up milks are specially formulated to provide the extra iron and vitamins that whole cows’ milk may be too low in to fully meet a baby’s needs at that age, and can provide the nutrition needed to support growth and increased activity.

Are there any special milks I can use for my baby?

Specific formulas are available for babies with special dietary needs, such as abut you should only use these on the advice of your GP or healthcare professional. If you think your baby needs a particular type of special milk, you should always discuss it with them.

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