Little benefit in ‘Hungry Baby’ and ‘Follow-on’ formula milks

If you are a first-time mum you may have some questions about feeding your baby particularly if you have decided to use formula milk. Here is some advice from the website.


Breast milk is the best and most natural food for your baby. Your body makes breast milk that is unique for your baby. The special ingredients are vital for normal growth, development and good health. It protects your baby against many illnesses and conditions. Infant formula cannot reproduce these ingredients.

Formula milk, also known as formula feed, baby formula or infant formula, is made from cow’s milk. Formula milk has been changed to make it suitable for your baby. Extra nutrients such as vitamins and minerals are added to help your baby to grow and develop.

Formula milk comes in powdered form or in ‘ready to feed’ cartons. Formula contains additives like vegetable oils, vitamins and minerals. These make sure that the formula contains the nutrients that babies need.

Do not use soy formula for babies under 6 months unless your GP or paediatrician recommends this. Do not give a baby under the age of 1 regular cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, condensed milk, or oat, almond and rice milk.

First infant formula

If you choose not to breastfeed or if you are unable to breastfeed your baby, you need to use formula.

First infant formula is the type of formula recommended for newborns. This should always be the formula you use and is suitable until your baby is 1 year old.

You should talk to your public health nurse or GP before you change your baby’s infant formula

There are several different brands of first formula milks available on the market. These are regulated to ensure they have the essential ingredients your baby needs.

Hungry baby milk

Hungry baby formula contains more casein than whey. Casein is a protein that is harder for babies to digest.

It’s often described as suitable for ‘hungrier babies’. There is no evidence that babies settle better or sleep longer when fed this type of formula.

Hungry baby milk is suitable from birth, but ask your public health nurse for advice first.

Follow-on formula

Follow-on formula is sometimes called ‘number 2 milk’. Switching to follow-on formula at 6 months has no benefits for your baby.

From 6 months you should begin weaning to solids and aim for a healthy balanced diet.

Never give ‘follow-on’ formulas to a baby under the age of 6 months

Your baby can carry on having first infant formula as their main drink until they are 1 year old.

The labels on follow-on formula can look like first infant formula. Read them to avoid making a mistake.

Ask your midwife, public health nurse or GP about giving formula milk to your newborn baby. Check with them if you are considering changing your baby’s formula. Avoid changing the type of formula you give your baby.

Related topics

Preparing baby formula


For more information on all aspects of your child’s health, well being and development check out

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books ( and also on  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from

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