For Parents & Parents-To-Be

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Infant formula is usually derived from cow’s milk or soya bean oil.  Although nutrients are added, it does not contain all of the same elements as human breast milk, and therefore cannot support a baby’s overall health and development in exactly the same ways as breast milk.  Infant formula is a suitable breast milk substitute to support an infant’s growth when breast milk is unavailable or when families make an informed decision to use formula.

The potential risks and increased costs associated with feeding babies infant formula may include:

For Baby:


  •  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)  
  •  Ear, chest and urinary tract infections  
  • Gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea  
  • Chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and some childhood cancers 

For Mother, NOT breastfeeding may increase a mother’s risk of:

  •   Cancer of the breast or ovaries

For Healthcare/society:


  • Infants can become sick from infant formula  (manufacturer’s errors, errors in preparation, powdered infant formula is not sterile)
  • Money for infant formula and feeding accessories requires a significant commitment of a family’s budget .
  • Infant formula increases the cost of health for families and society if any of the potential risks do occur  


Source: Best Start. (2011). Breastfeeding Matters. An important guide for breastfeeding women and their families. Retrieved from the website:


Risks of Receiving Samples of Formula

Formula companies often give parents samples of formula as part of their product marketing.

There are risks associated with feeding baby samples of formula:

  • It may affect a mother’s milk supply. Milk supply is directly linked to how often a baby is fed at the breast.   During times of increased growth, babies feed more often at the breast to increase milk supply.
  • Babies who receive formula supplements are more likely to need more and more formula.  If the supply is not stimulated, formula will need to take the place of breastmilk. 
  • Mothers and babies, who use formula in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, are more likely to stop breastfeeding earlier than planned.

Source: Best Start. (2011). Breastfeeding Matters. An important guide for breastfeeding women and their families. Retrieved from the website:

If your healthcare provider has recommended that your baby receive a supplement of infant formula for medical reasons, it is important to develop a plan together that will minimize the risks for your baby and that will support continued breastfeeding where possible. 

If you have made an informed decision to give your baby infant formula, please visit our Formula Feeding Your Baby resource for information on safe preparation, storage and handling of infant formula.

For more information about feeding your baby, call 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 and speak with a public health professional Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or email Your Health Connection