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Our health visitors will give you all the support you need from getting started with breastfeeding to weaning. This includes:

  • while you’re still pregnant we’ll talk about feeding and bonding with your baby
  • holding and feeding your baby when they are born
  • learning how to respond to your baby’s needs
  • recognising feeding cues and knowing when your baby is getting enough milk
  • learning how to breastfeed and express milk
  • bottle feeding, making formula feeds and sterilising
  • weaning your baby on to solid foods

Information about feeding is also available in your Red Book.


Breastfeeding is quite simply the best way to feed your baby, giving your child the best possible start in life. Your milk is unique and changes during each feed, with the time of day, your diet and the baby’s needs. Your breast milk is naturally full of nutrients, enzymes and antibodies. These antibodies can protect your baby from many illnesses including ear, chest, gut and urine infections, as well as from diabetes, eczema, and asthma, which is why breast milk alone is enough to feed your child for the first six months of his life.

Formula milk is cow’s milk with the nutrients artificially added. It is designed for every baby and therefore cannot adapt to your child’s specific needs in the way that breast milk can.

Source: Breastfeeding in Sheffield website © Sheffield City Council 21/10/2013

Don’t be afraid to ask your health visitor for the support and information you need to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. No problem is too small – if something is worrying you, the chances are that other mums will have felt the same.

There are also some great sources of support in Sheffield and nationally:

Formula feeding

Although we would recommend breastfeeding as the best option for you and your baby, we know that there are many reasons why a mum may give their baby formula instead of breast milk. If you choose to do this we won’t treat you any differently and will give you the same support as a breastfeeding mum. This includes advice on:

  • making up formula feeds
  • cleaning and sterilising bottles
  • how to bottle feed
  • knowing how much to feed your baby
  • knowing when your baby is full

The NHS Start4Life Guide to bottle feeding contains lots of useful information about how to prepare infant formula and sterilise feeding equipment to minimise the risk to your baby.

Your Red Book also contains information about responsive bottle feeding.


For the first six months, babies only need breast milk (or infant formula milk).

It’s normal for babies aged three to five months to start waking up in the night. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are hungry. At this age, their digestive system is still developing and they are probably not ready for solid food.

Starting solids will not make them any more likely to sleep through the night again. Babies often wake at night during the first year and will gradually learn to settle themselves back to sleep.

If your baby seems hungry at any time before six months, offer extra breastfeeds. Trying an extra feed for a formula fed baby can also meet their needs.

By about six months, most babies are ready to start on solid food. Before this, your baby’s digestive system is still developing and introducing solids too early can increase the risk of infections and allergies.

Introducing a good variety of healthy foods from the start will help lay the foundations for healthy growth and development.

Keep feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula as well as solid food, but don’t give them whole cows’ milk as a drink until they are one year old.

A useful guide to introducing solids is available from the First Steps Nutrition Trust. Local resources have also been developed by Sheffield’s Sweet Enough, including recipe ideas for young children.

Weaning groups take place across Sheffield for parents and babies up to one year old. These sessions provide advice on first tastes, portion sizes, safety and moving on to family foods. Ask your health visitor for details of groups near you.

Tips for a happy baby

Young babies are not capable of learning a routine
Keep your baby close to you and look for the signals they make to tell you they are hungry or want a cuddle. A new baby’s brain is not developed enough to be able to learn routines until a little older.

Breastfed babies cannot be overfed
Breastfeeding is a great way of soothing your baby and helping you to feel close and connected. It is always appropriate to offer the breast because it is more than just food, babies come to the breast for comfort and security too!

Hold your baby close while bottle feeding and look into their eyes
Learn to notice cues that they want to be fed and when they have had enough. This will help to build a close and loving bond with your baby and is good for their brain development.


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