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Feeding your baby – a quick guide for parents

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
June 29, 2020

Benefits of breastfeeding


  • Decreases risk of obesity in childhood
  • Fewer episodes of illness
  • Increased IQ
  • Protects teeth
  • Decreases risk of developing allergies
  • Decreases risk of diabetes
  • Lower rates of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Less likely to suffer from constipation and colic


  • Decreases risk of female cancers
  • It’s Free
  • Decreases the risk of developing diabetes and osteoporosis
  • Promotes postnatal mental wellbeing
  • Aids with weight loss
  • Its easy to do during the night or when travelling – no heating/sterilising required

How much milk?

The amount of milk that your baby will drink varies from feed to feed. The image below is a guide to the volume of a baby’s feed based on age. Don’t be alarmed if you cannot express the amounts detailed in the chart, a suckling baby will always be able to extract more milk from the breast than a mother can express.

Is the baby latched on well?

There are a number of signs that will tell you if the baby is latched onto the breast well:

  • Breastfeeding feels comfortable, not painful.
  • Your baby takes the whole nipple and a large amount of the areola into his mouth, more on the chin side than the nose side.
  • Your baby’s chin is pressed into your breast.
  • Your baby’s lips are turned out over your breast (not sucked in)
  • Your baby’s body is inline with yours (no twisted neck)
  • Your baby is not making clicking noises whilst feeding
  • Baby appears comfortable when feeding and settles easily when finished

Expressing and storing milk

You can find a hand expressing NHS video here:
You may express milk for a number of reasons. For example, if the baby isn’t latching on well or at a later stage you are away from your baby and need someone else to feed them. In general, though, try not to start expressing and storing milk until your supply is becoming established which is usually around 2-3 weeks after birth.

Formula Feeding

If you are using powdered formula to make up your baby’s feeds, it is essential that you do this correctly to avoid any bacteria growing in the milk. Follow these steps to ensure safe practice.

Sterilise everything
You must sterilise all parts of the bottles prior to feeding. This will ensure any harmful bacteria is killed prior to preparing the feed. Before you sterilise, wash the bottles and teats in warm soapy water. You will need an electric steam steriliser, a microwave steriliser, or a cold-water sterilising solution. Continue to sterilise all equipment until your baby is 1 year old when using formula.

Fill the kettle with fresh tap water. Don’t use artificially softened water, or water that has already been boiled. Once it has boiled, allow it to cool for no more than 30 minutes. It needs to be hot enough to kill any bacteria in the powder, but not boiling hot. Pour the required amount of water into the bottle. You must always put the water in first to ensure you are getting the correct water/powder ratio. Add the right amount of powder to the bottle. Fill the scoop and level it off using the leveller provided in the pack. Put a sterilised cap on the bottle and shake it carefully until the powder has dissolved completely.

The right amount
Prepare the feed exactly as stated on the formula box. Formula milk that is too weak or dilute can mean your baby is missing out on nutrients. A formula feed that is too strong can lead to dehydration, constipation, or kidney problems.

Too hot or too cold
Before feeding your baby, test the temperature of the milk by tipping a little milk on to the inside of your wrist. It should feel warm, not hot. If necessary, you can cool the milk by holding the bottle under cold running water ensuring that the tap water does not touch the teat.
Once you have made a feed, it should be discarded after 2 hours so be sure to feed your baby as soon as it has cooled down enough.