Why breastfeed?

Breast milk is the best and most natural food for your baby. It gives your baby the best possible start in life.

Breast milk contains all the right nutrients for your baby, which only mum’s body can make. It also helps to protect your baby against many illnesses and conditions. Very occasionally, there are sound medical reasons for not breastfeeding – for example, if you have HIV or, in rare cases, you’re taking a medication that could harm your baby, such as drugs for treating cancer.

What does breast milk help to protect against?

Breast milk provides your baby with the best possible protection against many illnesses and conditions, such as:

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Coughs and colds
  • Chest infections
  • Urine infections
  • Ear infections
  • Obesity and diabetes

Breastfeeding also helps protect mum from breast cancer and osteoporosis (weak bones, causing hip fractures).

Other benefits of breastfeeding:

  • As your baby grows and changes, mum’s breast milk also changes and adapts to meet your baby’s needs.
  • Mum can breastfeed whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed – no fuss, preparation or waiting.
  • Breast milk is free, fast food for your baby, and it’s always at the right temperature.
  • When your breastfed baby needs a nappy change, dirty nappies are not as smelly as they will be for formula- fed babies.


Dad’s role in breastfeeding

The support and encouragement of a caring partner is really important to the success of breastfeeding.

Find out as much as you can about feeding before your baby arrives. Remember that, although the relationship between mum and baby is really close in the early days when breastfeeding is being established, there are lots of ways in which you can be involved, by offering practical and emotional support.

You can:

  • Support and reassure your partner whilst she is breastfeeding.
  • Bring her a drink, and offer a pillow/cushion if she needs to get comfy.
  • Offer to change nappies, wind baby, bath baby, and/or calm baby by doing skin-to-skin with you.
  • Offer to take baby for a walk in a sling or pushchair, so that mum can have a nap.
  • Get to know your baby, talking to and stroking him/her, so you become confident, too.

Remember that the benefits of breastfeeding will last your baby’s lifetime, so it really is worth working at getting it right in the early days and weeks.

Public Health England (PHE) recommend exclusive breastfeeding (feeding baby breast milk and nothing else) for the first six months of life. After that time, continuing to breastfeed alongside

solid food still offers both mum and baby many health benefits. Remember, though, that any amount of breast milk will always be good for your baby’s health and wellbeing.

If mum chooses to express breast milk, the great thing is that you will be able to join in by feeding your baby, too!





If you decide to feed your baby with formula milk, talk to your Midwife or Health Visitor about this.

Following the guidelines below at feeding time will help you take positive steps to keeping your baby healthy.

Preparing bottles:

  • Wash all bottle parts in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
  • Every part of the bottle now needs to be sterilised. To do this, you can use: cold water and sterilising solution or tablets; a microwave; or an electric steriliser. Make sure that you are familiar with and follow the instructions for your chosen method.
  • Make each feed up as and when baby needs to be fed. Storing feeds made from powder, even in the fridge, makes it more likely that your baby may become ill.

To make a feed using powdered formula milk:

  • Clean the work surface where the feed will be made, and wash and dry your hands carefully.
  • Boil at least 1 litre of fresh tap water – don’t use water that has been boiled before – in a kettle or covered pan.
  • Leave the water to stand for no more than 30 minutes. The water must be very hot when the powder is mixed into it (70-90 ⁰C).
  • Carefully pour the required amount of hot water into the sterilised bottle.
  • Add the required amount of powder to the water, making sure that you closely follow the instructions on the formula packet or tin.
  • Fit the teat and lid to the bottle, taking care not to touch the sterile teat.
  • Gently shake the bottle to mix.
  • Cool the hot milk by running the bottle under the cold tap and then standing it in a bowl of cold water.
  • Test the temperature of the milk by dripping a little onto the inside of your wrist – it should feel warm or cool, but not hot.
  • Feed the milk to your baby and throw away any milk not used within two hours.

Feeding your baby should be a loving and pleasant experience for both of you. The following information will help you both enjoy feeding times.

  • Limit the number of people who feed your baby, especially in the first weeks. Feeding times are opportunities to get to know each other and babies can become confused if they are fed by too many different people.
  • Feed your baby when they seem to be hungry. Watch your baby for feeding cues – such as mouth opening, lip licking and hand sucking – which tell you that they are ready to be fed. You don’t need to wait until your baby cries to be fed, or to follow a rigid schedule.
  • Newborn babies need to be fed little and often – usually at least eight times in every 24 hours, including at least once at night. It’s best to feed your baby only as much as they seem to want. Encouraging your baby to take more milk than they want may cause vomiting and be bad for their health.
  • When bottle feeding, hold your baby close to your body and facing you. Babies need to feel secure when feeding, and feeling your body and seeing your face will help with this.
  • To help with sucking and swallowing, hold your baby slightly upright when bottle-feeding.
  • Keep the teat full of milk by gradually tipping the bottle. This will reduce the amount of air that is swallowed with the milk, which can cause painful wind.
  • Let your baby take their time to feed. They will suck, and then pause to swallow and rest.
  • When your baby stops sucking, and seems to have had enough milk, take time to wind them by holding them upright and gently rubbing their back, whilst also supporting their head and neck. Some babies bring up lots of wind, whilst others rarely burp.

Remember to throw away any leftover milk that has not been used after two hours.