Recommendation on Formula Milk Feeding for Young Children - Press release on 1 Feb 2013

(Web published 02/2013)

Joint statement on recommendations to parents on formula milk feeding of young children by DH and five health-care professional bodies

Following is a joint statement on recommendations to parents on formula milk feeding of young children issued by the Department of Health (DH), the Department of Paediatrics of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong College of Paediatricians, the Hong Kong Paediatric Society and the Hong Kong Medical Association today (February 1):

The DH and the above-mentioned health-care professional bodies attach great importance to the recent concern about the shortage of supply of formula milk in Hong Kong widely reported in the media.

The DH has all along been promoting and educating parents about the healthy feeding of infants and young children. In view of the current situation, the DH together with these five professional bodies from the medical sector would like to take this opportunity to reinforce the recommendations on formula milk feeding for parents, from children's nutrition and health perspectives, to ease their worries about not being able to continue feeding their babies with a particular brand of formula milk.

The recommendations are as follows:

For children under 1 year old

  1. For newborn to 6-month-old babies
    Milk is the sole source of nutrients for newborn to 6-month-old babies. Infant formulae are very similar in composition as required by the Codex Standards for Infant Formula and parents should choose Infant Formula (No. 1 Formula) which meets the Codex Standards. If parents have difficulty in securing the brand currently consumed by their babies, they can consider switching to another brand.
  2. For 6- to 12-month-old babies
    Babies within this age range have started taking complementary food, and they may either take Infant Formula (No. 1 Formula) or switch to Follow-up Formula (No. 2 Formula) of any brand, although there is currently inadequate scientific or medical evidence to suggest the use of Follow-up Formula (No. 2 Formula) marketed for these children.
  3. In general, babies can directly change to another brand of formula milk and the pace depends on individual acceptance.
  4. Use boiled water of no less than 70 degrees Celsius to make formula milk as this kills harmful bacteria.
  5. Cow milk is not suitable for babies under 1 year old.

Children aged 1 year old or above

  1. At this age, eating a varied diet can meet children's nutritional requirements. Parents should note that milk is only part of a balanced diet and a convenient source of calcium for children aged 1 year old or above. A daily intake of 360 to 480 millilitres of milk largely satisfies the calcium requirements of young children.
  2. Parents can let their children drink cow milk (including fresh cow milk, UHT milk or full fat milk powder), which is less expensive than formula milk. There is no nutritional reason to switch to Follow-up Formula (No. 3 or 4 Formula) marketed for these children.
  3. For the choice of cow milk, children under 2 years old should take whole milk, those aged between 2 and 5 can take low-fat milk and children above 5 years old can take skimmed milk.
  4. Parents can also give their children other calcium-rich foods, such as tofu, green leafy vegetables, yoghurt and cheese, to meet their calcium needs.

For details, please refer to the Press Release.

As for expectant mothers, breast milk is the best natural food for their babies and due consideration should be given to exclusively breastfeeding their babies for the first six months, then with the introduction of complementary foods, and continuing breastfeeding up to 2 years old and beyond.