Healthy living

Breastmilk and infant formula

A very important part of looking after infants younger than one year old is to ensure their food is safe and healthy.

Food safety is particularly important for the early months of an infant’s life. Food poisoning can be especially severe for infants because their digestive and immune systems are immature.

This information is for healthy full-term babies only. If your baby is premature, of low birth weight or unwell, in the first instance talk to your doctor, midwife or child and family health nurse for advice on feeding.


Australian and international authorities recommend breastmilk as the best source of nutrition:

  • for infants in their first 6 months, without other solids or liquids; and
  • for older infants and toddlers in combination with solids, for as long as the mother and child desire.

Breastmilk gives infants the best possible start, even if it’s only for the first few months or weeks. WA Health supports the World Health Organization’s view that breastfeeding unequalled in providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants.

Read more about breastfeeding.

Infant formula

Special formulas are available where parents’ families have a history of allergies. Talk to your doctor, midwife or child and family health nurse about these in the first instance.

Commercially produced infant formulas in Australia are required to meet specific standards, designed to ensure they have a nutritional profile that satisfies the unique nutrition requirements of infants up to 12 months old. Commercial infant formula producers must also have processes and systems in place to minimise food safety risks, such as the risks posed by microbiological pathogens like Salmonella.

Learn about the safe preparation and use of formula and the risks to your baby of home-made forumla.


Everything that comes into contact with an infant’s food needs thorough cleaning and sterilising including:

  • bottles
  • teats
  • cups
  • utensils
  • dummies
  • pacifiers.  

Learn about the different ways to sterilise your baby's feeding equipment.

Where to get help


  • Food safety is particularly important for the early months of an infant’s life.


Information reproduced with the permission of the NSW Food Authority

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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