Formula milk FAQs

Here are some answers to questions parents and carers often ask about formula milk:

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Which formula is best?

Regulations ensure that all formula milk is nutritionally suitable for babies and so they are of similar composition.  The milk companies each claim their milk is best or better, but all milks on sale must contain what babies need.  The best advice is to pick the formula milk you know you can get access locally.


What milk should I use?

First Stage milk is recommended for the first year of life.  It can be based on cow’s or goat’s milk.  There are also formula milks for special medical purposes, but these should only be used under medical supervision – they include anti-reflux, lactose free, partially hydrolysed and comfort milks.


Does goat’s milk cause fewer allergies than cow’s milk formula?

No – they are equivalent


My baby is bringing up milk after feeds – do I use reflux milk?Baby stomach

Crying, bringing up feeds and being unsettled can be common for babies.  Reflux is rare and needs a diagnosis by a health professional.  If your baby brings up milk after feeds, try feeding smaller amounts more frequently, and frequent winding during feeds.  Remember, your baby’s stomach is very small!


My baby is 6 months old.  Does he need follow-on formula?

No, this is not needed.  In fact the World Health Organisation states these milks are not needed, and recommends first formula milk for the whole year.  Follow on milks are expensive and heavily advertised, but have no nutritional advantage.

The most important thing to remember is that past 6 months your baby needs a good variety of foods to complement their formula.  And when your baby is taking less than 500 ml of formula each day, you should give vitamin drops – you can get these using Healthy Start vouchers or with minimal cost at your pharmacy.


When can I use cow’s milk as a drink?

After 1 year of age it is recommended to drink about 400 ml of cows’ milk or formula.  Cows’ milk can be used before 1-year-old if it is in cooked food.


Are toddler milks and growing up milks better than cow’s milk?

No.  They contain more sugar than animal milk, and less nutrients such as vitamin B2, calcium and iodide.  Offering these sweetened drinks to young children increases the risks for tooth decay and weight issues later on.