Safe feeding for infants
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for newborn babies, but parents may decide to give their babies infant formula, either exclusively or in combination with breast milk.
Both infant formula and expressed breast milk must be prepared and stored carefully to minimise the growth of any bacteria that could harm your baby.
Premature, low weight, or very sick babies
Ask your doctor or health professional for advice on feeding your baby if it is premature, of low birth weight, or very sick.
Keep your baby safe from Cronobacter
Cronobacter is a type of bacteria that can survive in a diverse range of environments including home surfaces, and in dry foods, including infant formula. Infections are rare but can be deadly for young infants.
Find out how to protect your baby from Cronobacter
Watch out for symptoms of botulism
Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) can cause a serious illness called foodborne botulism (caused by eating the bacteria's toxin) and infant botulism (generally in children, caused by eating the bacteria's spores). Honey can contain the bacteria that causes infant botulism.
Symptoms in infants
In infants, symptoms include:
- poor feeding
- drooping eyelids
- face showing less expression than usual
- weak cry that sounds different from usual
- difficulty breathing.
If your child has symptoms of botulism, immediately see the doctor or take your child to a hospital emergency room.
How to lower the risk of botulism
- Take extra care when preparing bottled foods, vacuum-packed food (including sous vide cooking) and fermented, smoked, or salted meat and fish products that won’t be thoroughly cooked before eating.
- Use new jars and bottles that have been sterilised.
- Throw away preserved or vacuum-packed food that is badly damaged, bulging or looks spoiled.
- Do not give honey to infants under 12 months old.
- Wash your hands with soap and dry them before preparing, eating food, or feeding your child.
- Keep your kitchen and equipment clean.
- Refrigerate or freeze cooked food as soon as it has stopped steaming.
Find out more about botulism symptoms, causes, and prevention
Read about feeding your baby or toddler on the Ministry of Health website:
Who to contact
If you have questions about feeding infants safely, email firstname.lastname@example.org