Formula Information

Infant Formula Information

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is infant formula?

The regulations in Australia and New Zealand state that infant formula means an infant formula product represented as a breastmilk substitute for infants and which satisfies the nutritional requirements of infants aged up to around six months.

2. Why is infant formula the only suitable substitute to breastmilk?

When a baby does not receive breastmilk the only suitable and safe alternative is a commercially available infant formula. Infant formula has been specifically developed to contain all the necessary ingredients needed to meet the complete nutritional requirements of infants up to the age of 6 months.

3. Are cow’s milk, fruit juice or soft drinks okay?

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Health Infants and Toddlers do not recommend giving unmodified cow’s milk as a drink to babies under 12 months. In Australia the NHMRC does state that cow’s milk can be used in solid foods from around 9 months of age, while the New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends cow’s milk can be used in cooked foods (eg custard, milk pudding) from 7-8 months. For babies under a year old, cow’s milk as the principle source of nutrition is too high in protein and some vitamins/mineral levels are unsuitable which, can affect immature kidneys and may be difficult for young tummies to digest.

In order to satisfy thirst, water is the preferred beverage and it is not recommended to give babies under 12 months fruit juice or soft drinks. Both fruit juice and soft drinks can contribute to tooth decay and are not nutritionally appropriate for infants.

4. What is follow-on formula?

An infant formula product continues to be an important part of an infant’s diet where a baby is not being breast fed and in combination with solid foods up to 12 months of age. Follow-on formulas are designed for infants between 6 and 12 months of age, and are suitable as the liquid source of nourishment in a progressively diversified diet in the non breastfed infant.

5. When can infant formula product be used?

When a baby is not given breastmilk exclusively, a commercial infant formula product is the only safe and suitable alternative to breastmilk for the first 12 months of life. An Infant or Follow-on formula product is suitable from 6 to 12 months. Diluted milk mixtures based on evaporated, powdered or condensed milk are not suitable for infant feeding.

6. How do manufacturers ensure the safety and quality of infant formula powder?

Infant formula products available in New Zealand and Australia are made to stringent standards to meet the regulatory requirements for food supply in Australia and New Zealand, which is set by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).

The raw materials used in the manufacture of infant formula and of the final product itself must meet very strict specifications. The highest standards throughout the manufacturing process involve thorough heat treatment which ensures the microbiological safety of the product. Quality control procedures are very strict and stringent standards of hygiene are in force throughout. The risk of potential contamination is kept to an absolute minimum.

7. Are infant formulas safe for babies?

Yes. Infant formulas are very safe to use provided they are prepared, stored and used correctly. Attention to instructions provided by the manufacturer must be followed to ensure safety.

8. Why do infant formula companies produce two standards of infant formula?

Infant formula available in Australia and New Zealand comply with the essential compositional requirements of Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and as such, are adequate in providing nutrition to infants. Infant formula can contain additional ingredients such as long chain Omerga 3 & 6 fatty acids (AA & DHA) which may support infant growth and development.

By producing different formula parents and carers are able to choose a formula for a certain ingredient, or a formula designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of their child.

9. Is infant formula full of sugar?

It is sometimes claimed that “infant formulas are full of sugar”. This statement is incorrect if the term sugar is referring to table sugar (sucrose). Sugar in the form of lactose is present in breastmilk at higher levels than cow’s milk and it is considered a very important source of readily available energy for the baby. Infant formula products have been formulated where possible to contain lactose in similar amounts as found in breastmilk.

10. Will formula feeding result in adult obesity?

There are many factors that may influence the development of obesity in adulthood and there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support a direct relationship between obesity and feeding of infant formula. There is evidence to suggest that some factors such as high energy and high protein intake in infancy is associated with increased risk of weight gain or obesity later in life. As a result, some infant formulas have moved to lower the recommended volume intake per serve (energy and/or protein content of the formula. Obesity is a multi factorial disease that is affected by many factors, including maternal diet.

11. When should soy infant formulas be used?

Soy infant formulas should only be used on the advice of a GP or other healthcare professional. Other soy based or cereal based non-infant formula beverages should not be used.