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The best start in life

It is recommended that wherever possible, babies are exclusively fed breast milk for the first six months. At birth, giving your baby a long cuddle: Skin to skin contact for up to one hour, calms both mum and baby, it regulates baby’s heart rate and temperature, and stimulates mothering hormones which helps to form a close bond and increase breast milk supply. Baby’s immediate needs are to feel safe and secure, and to be able to feed whenever hungry. Holding your baby close to feed, and responding to all of baby’s needs encourages healthy brain connections. Most of this development will occur within the first two years. Responsive parenting will enable your baby to reach its full potential, to be able to form good relationships and communicate well, giving them the best start in life.

Sterilising and bottle hygiene

  • The cleaning and sterilising instructions are the same, whether you are using expressed breastmilk or infant formula milk.
  • All the equipment you use for bottle feeding your baby needs to be washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and sterilised.
  • You need to keep sterilising your feeding equipment until your baby is at least six months old.
  • Infections (like gastroenteritis) are rare, but if they do occur, can be very serious.

Health visitor’s tips

How to tell your baby is having lots of milk:

  • Lots of wet heavy nappies - around six in 24 hours.
  • Dirty nappies, two to three soft stools daily until four to six weeks, after which two to three per week.
  • Baby is content and settled during and after each feed.
  • During a feed, you can hear baby swallowing.
  • Weight gain - checked by your health visitor at the local baby clinic.

Remember, your milk fulfils all of your baby’s needs for around six months. It also reduces the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Ordinary supermarket cow’s milk should not be offered until your baby reaches one year, although it is suitable to use from six months in breakfast cereals.

How to breastfeed

It is important to find a position that is comfortable and safe.

  1. Hold your baby’s whole body close with their nose level with your nipple to help them attach correctly.
  2. Let your baby’s head tip back a little so that their top lip can brush against your nipple. This should help your baby to make a wide open mouth.
  3. When your baby’s mouth opens wide, their chin is able to touch your breast first, with their head tilted, so that their lower lip can make contact with the breast 2-3cm below the nipple.
  4. With their chin firmly touching and their nose clear, their mouth is wide open and there will be much more of the darker skin visible above your baby’s top lip than below their bottom lip. Your baby's cheeks will look full and rounded as they feed.

There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding. You just need to check the following:

  • Are your baby’s head and body in a straight line?
    If not, your baby might not be able to swallow easily.
  • Are you holding your baby close to you?
    Support their neck, shoulders and back. They should be able to tilt their head back easily.

If you want further resources on bottle feeding and formula please visit:


for safe, evidence based information

Useful contacts

National Breasfeeding Network Helpline
Telephone: 0300 100 0212


Please note that all links open in a new window.

Useful tips


 For breastfeeding support groups or one to one assistance, ask your health visitor or Children’s Centre for a list of local services.


 Have you been shown how to hand express? This is a really useful skill, and it’s free!


Go to your local Breastfeeding Support Group for details. Ask your health visitor for extra advice and support.

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