Choosing a formula for your baby

Choosing a formula for your baby

    Breast milk is the best for your baby, however if you decide to mix feed or move on from breastfeeding, you will need to feed your baby an infant formula if they are under 12 months.

    Infant formulas are sometimes referred to as 'breastmilk substitutes’, and are the only suitable alternative to breastmilk for infants under 12 months.  Regular cow’s milk (and other plant based milks) are not suitable as a drink for infants under 12 months, as they are too high in sodium and protein and too low in iron and other essential nutrients.

    Always seek advice from your health professional before making the decision to introduce infant formula.  It’s important to understand that even the introduction of partial bottle feeding will reduce your supply of breast milk, and it will take some time to revert to full breastfeeding again. It is also really important that infant formula is prepared correctly and safely for your baby.

Firstly, a bit about infant formula: 

    All infant formula sold in New Zealand, must meet strict regulations in the Food Standards Code for Australia and New Zealand which ensures the quality of these products.  This means all infant formulas for sale must meet strict safety, quality, nutritional composition and labelling standards.

Most standard infant formulas available in New Zealand are based on cow’s milk which has been modified, and with nutrients added to make it nutritionally suitable for infants.

There are also a range of specialty formulas available for different feeding needs and allergy requirements on medical advice.

Different stages of infant formula products:

Stage 1 infant formulas are suitable from birth and can be used up until 12 months of age.  Standard infant formulas are usually based on whey-dominant cows’ milk protein.

Stage 2 follow-on formulas are suitable for babies six months and older. Standard follow-on formulas are usually based on casein-dominant cows’ milk protein. Follow-on formulas can also contain different levels of nutrients compared with infant formulas, so they’re not suitable for babies younger than six months. 

At around 6 months of age, when your baby is showing signs of readiness they should be introduced to first foods in addition to their breast milk or formula.

If your baby is happy and established on an infant formula, you don’t have to change to follow-on formula at six months - you can just continue using infant formula right up until 12 months.

Over 12 months of age:

From 12 months onwards, your baby becomes a toddler.  Whole-fat (dark blue label) cow’s milk can now be your toddler's main milk drink, around 350mL in a cup is enough for most toddlers.

Some toddlers struggle to get enough iron and other nutrients - especially if they are picky eaters, don’t like to eat meat, or have small appetites. In this case, some parents may choose to use a toddler milk drink instead of cow’s milk.   A toddler milk drink is a cows’ milk-based nutritional supplement specifically formulated for toddlers who may require additional energy and nutrients when their normal diet may not be adequate.  

In summary, when choosing an infant formula:

1. Ask your Health Professional for help

2. Start with a cow’s milk-based formula

3. Choose the right formula for your baby's age

4. Check the use-by date

5. Prepare following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully

For further advice, please contact your health professional or call our Careline on 0800 55 66 66 to speak to our nutritionists.

As an infant formula manufacturer, Heinz are a member of the Infant Nutrition Council and support and abide by the Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formula in New Zealand. The aim of this Code is to protect and promote breastfeeding, and the proper use of infant formula when necessary, through adequate information, appropriate marketing and distribution. Marketing Codes - INC - Infant Nutrition Council

The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.

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