Infant Formulas

Melissa, Allcare’s Pharmacy Regulation & Health Services Coordinator, chats about infant formulas below.

There is a wide range of brands and types of formula available in pharmacies and supermarkets and it can sometimes be confusing to know which one is best for your baby. Your Public Health Nurse, Midwife, or GP will be able to advise you on which will suit your baby.


What forms does formula come in?

Formula comes in two different forms: 

  • A dry powder you make up with water
  • A ready-to-feed liquid formula. While ready-to-feed liquid formula can be convenient, especially in the early days after your baby is born, it tends to be more expensive and, once opened, needs to be used more quickly.


What are the different types of formula?

First infant formula:

Suitable from birth

First infant formula (first milk) should always be the first formula you give to your baby.

The cows' milk in formula contains 2 types of proteins: whey and casein. First infant formula is based on whey protein which is thought to be easier to digest than other types of formula. Your baby can stay on it when you start to introduce solid foods at around 6 months and drink them throughout their 1st year. When your baby is one year old, they can start to drink whole cows' milk, sheep's, or goats' milk - as long as it is pasteurised.


Goats' milk formula:

Suitable from birth

Different kinds of goat's milk formula are available in pharmacies and supermarkets. They are produced to the same nutritional standards as cow's milk-based formula.

Goats' milk formulas are not suitable for infants with cows' milk allergy (also known as cows' milk protein allergy), as the proteins they contain are very similar.


Hungrier baby (hungry milk) formula:

Suitable from birth - but ask a midwife or Public Health Nurse for advice first.

This type of formula contains more casein than whey and casein is harder for babies to digest. Milk that says they are for ‘hungrier babies’ takes babies longer to digest than first milk.


Anti-reflux (stay down) formula:

Suitable from birth - but only under medical supervision.

This type of formula is thickened with the aim of preventing reflux in babies i.e. when babies bring up milk during or after a feed.

Although it's available in pharmacies and supermarkets, it is recommended you only use it on the advice of a healthcare professional.


Comfort formula:

Suitable from birth - but ask a midwife or health visitor for advice first.

This type of formula contains cows' milk proteins that have already been partly broken down or ‘partially hydrolysed’. This is designed to make it easier to digest and help prevent digestive problems such as colic and constipation.

Partially hydrolysed formulas are not suitable for babies who have cows' milk allergies.


Lactose-free formula:

Suitable from birth - but only under medical supervision.

This formula is suitable for babies who are lactose intolerant. This means they cannot absorb lactose, which is a sugar found naturally in milk and dairy products.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, wind, and bloating.

The lactose-free formula is available in pharmacies and some supermarkets, but if you think your baby may be lactose intolerant, it's important to speak to your GP.


Hypoallergenic formula:

Suitable from birth - but only under medical supervision.

If your baby is diagnosed as being allergic to cows' milk, a GP will prescribe an appropriate infant formula with fully broken down/ hydrolysed proteins.


Soya formula:

Suitable from 6 months - but only under medical supervision.

Soya formula is made from soya beans, not cows' milk. It's occasionally used as an alternative to cows' milk formula for babies who have cows' milk allergies.

Only use the soya formula if it has been recommended or prescribed by a health visitor or GP.


Make sure to chat with your Public Health Nurse, Midwife, or GP for advice on which formula will best suit your baby. Pop into your local Allcare Pharmacy to browse the range of brands and formula options available!