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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWhile we all know breast is best, the reality is that, in Australia at least, about half of all babies are fed with some formula in the first six months of life. In fact, every year, the equivalent of $41 billion US is spent on infant formula around the world. This equates to a lot of formula use. Hello, I'm Dr. Rachel Laws. I'm a research fellow with an interest in early life nutrition and obesity prevention at Deakin University's Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition. Evidence tells us that formula fed babies are more likely to experience rapid weight gain, and as a result become overweight in their later years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsThis is why it's important to promote breastfeeding, but for mums that can't or choose not to breastfeed, it's also important that we support them to feed formula in the best way possible to promote the optimal growth and lifetime health of their babies. Best practise formula feeding is covered in quite a lot of detail in both the Australian infant feeding guidelines and also in an app and website Deakin University has developed for parents. In these resources, we've identified important take-home messages for parents about what to feed, how to make up formula appropriately, and the best way to feed them.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsWhen it comes to choosing an infant formula, parents should firstly be encouraged to choose a formula with a lower amount of protein to promote healthy growth rates. Too much protein may make a baby grow too rapidly, which is not good for their health. All formulas are required to have a protein content within the range of 1.3 to two grams per 100 millilitres. So choosing a formula at the lower end of this range is preferable. Secondly, follow the instructions on the tin. Sounds easy, but evidence suggests that many parents don't do this.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsSo this means using the right scoop, the one that came with the tin, using level, lightly packs scoops, but not over or under filling it, and adding water first and then the powder to ensure that the formula isn't under or over concentrated. It's also important not to add anything else, like honey, sugar, cereals, or crushed biscuits to the bottle. Thirdly, be responsive when feeding your baby. This means only offering a bottle when your baby shows signs of hunger, rather than offering the bottle on a pre-determined schedule, and not pressuring the baby to finish the bottle and not using milk to settle a baby that isn't hungry.

Skip to 2 minutes and 27 secondsMy final take-home message is to introduce babies to a cup at six months of age with the aim of phasing out bottles completely by their first birthday.

Best-practice feeding with formula

For new parents who can’t or choose not to breastfeed, it’s important that we support them to feed formula in the best way possible to promote the optimal growth and lifetime health of their babies.

In this video, Dr Rachel Laws provides an overview of the best way to include formula feeding for parents who either can’t or chose not to breastfeed. In this video Rachel also includes a number of important take home messages for parents about formula feeding, including:

  • what to feed (choice of formula)
  • how to make up formula appropriately
  • the best way to feed babies formula.

These messages will help support parents to feed formula in the best way possible to promote the optimal growth and lifetime health of their babies.

Your task

Many parents tell us that they have found it difficult to raise introducing infant formula with their health care provider.

If you’ve chosen to use infant formula, or are thinking about using it, tell us about where you’re getting your advice and support? What advice have you received?

If you’re a health professional, you might like to reflect on the advice you currently provide to formula feeding parents and how this fits with the key messages in this video.

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This video is from the free online course:

Infant Nutrition: from Breastfeeding to Baby's First Solids

Deakin University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: