What should I know about infant formula?

Parents consider giving their babies formula for many reasons. In some cases it is medically necessary. At other times, mom may believe that her milk supply is low (and thus think that formula is needed) when her supply is actually fine. Sometimes it’s simply the parent’s choice.  If you feel that your baby has a need for formula supplementation (or your baby’s doctor has suggested or recommended it) and you wish to continue breastfeeding, then contact a lactation consultant (preferably IBCLC) for guidance. A good lactation consultant can assess the need for supplementation and guide you in the use of supplements to support your own breastfeeding goals.

Keep in mind that formula (like a medication) comes with its own set of risks, and parents need to be aware of these so they can make an informed decision on its use. The use of formula can shorten the breastfeeding relationship, and comes with increased health risks for baby and mother (even in the US and other developed countries). Parents should look at their individual circumstances and decide whether the benefits of formula use outweigh the risks. Alternatives to formula include a mother’s own milk (the best choice when available– can be fed directly or expressed) or another mother’s milk (from a milk bank, private donor, family member, or friend).

Remember that breastfeeding does not have to be “all or nothing”any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial to both mom and baby.

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Following are some links to information on infant formula and alternatives.


Need to use formula? Here are some specifics…


Supplementing with Formula


Safe Formula Feeding


Infant Formula FAQs

Alternatives to Formula


Articles on infant formula (health effects)

Soy Formula

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